Paraguay Abroad: José Ortigoza scores in China, Chelo & Piris make debuts in Italy

A total of 5 goals from our compatriots on foreign soil this weekend, we have goals from China, Colombia, Ecuador and as ever Mexico to show you below.

CHINA

Lucas Barrios (Guangzhou Evergrande) desperately wants out of the Far East but there are no such problems for José Ortigoza who scored what looked to be the winner against Didier Drogba’s Shanghai Shenhua only for Nicolas Anelka to grab a last minute equaliser in a thrilling 3-3 draw. You can watch a shaven-headed Ortigoza’s well timed run and cool finish below (aprox 3 mins 30 secs)

MEXICO

No goals for the defenders this week but Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana), Herminio Miranda (Puebla) and Paulo da Silva (Pachuca) all kept cleansheets. Edgar Benítez was used off the bench in Toluca’s draw while Dario Verón saw his Pumas side suffer another defeat. That leaves the hero of the weekend, Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) who scored a delightful lob, the only goal of the game, versus Atlas.

COLOMBIA

For once we are not talking about a Robin Ramirez goal, his Tolima side (that included Antony Silva and Manuel Maciel) were beaten 3-1 at home by Atletico Nacional. Instead the plaudits go to Marco Lazaga who grabbed a headed equaliser for Patriotas against Pasto.

ECUADOR

Eduardo Echverría continues his amazing rise from futsal player to Carapeguá’s topscorer and now is playing for one of the continent’s biggest clubs, Liga de Quito. On Saturday he scored the winner 10 minutes from time with a stunning shot, Aldo Vera was tresent for the opponents, LDU Loja.

In other games, Domingo Martinez (Macará) was on the winning side as were Librado Azcona and Edgar Balbuena (Independiente) but Miguel Paniagua (Deportivo Cuenca) crashed to defeat against Barcelona.

ITALY

Ivan Piris (Roma) made his debut in a 2-2 draw with Catania while Marcelo Estigarribia (Sampdoria) also played his first competitive game in an excellent victory in the San Siro versus AC Milan.

SPAIN

Nelson Haedo (Valencia) was consigned to the bench and didn’t come on in his team’s 3-3 draw.

ENGLAND

Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic) was involved in his side’s 2-0 win away to Southampton.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Luis Caballero on target and Pablo Aguilar scores again

Another weekend, another goal for Pablo Aguilar, the Tijuana defender has now notched up three in four league games and is joint 2nd topscorer in the Mexican Primera División. Over in China, Lucas Barrios was left out of the side with sunstroke while in Russia Luis Caballero continues his hot streak with another goal for Krylya as they sit in sixth place. There are also goals from Ecuador and Cyprus in another decent week for our Paraguayan legion.

RUSSIA

Luis Caballero bundled in the first goal to set Krylya on their way against Rostov.Pablo Zeballos set up the winner last week and once again was the provider from a corner as the side from Samara ran out 2-1 victors to record back-to-back wins.

CHINA

Lucas Barrios suffered heatstroke on Wednesday so wasn’t included by Lippi in the Guangzhou team at the weekend, José Ortigoza’s Shandong ran out 4-0 winners but the Paraguayan didn’t find the net.

MEXICO

Another incredible weekend for Pablo Aguilar who is turning into a prolific goalscorer, the central defender opened the scoring for Tijuana in a 2-2 draw with Paulo Da Silva’s Pachuca.

There was another all-Paraguayan battle as Edgar Benítez (Toluca) got the better of Dario Verón (Pumas) in a 2-1 away win and on Friday night Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) also won 2-1 as part of the visiting side, overcoming Jaguares. Herminio Miranda (Puebla) played the full 90 minutes as his side went down to 10-men and lost 1-0 to Cruz Azul.

BRAZIL

Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres made a long awaited debut as Flamengo moved up to ninth with a 2-0 win, elsewhere Figueirense ended a 15-game winless streak but neither Wilson Pittoni nor Mario Saldivar were in the match squad.

CYPRUS

Aldo Adorno scored a good goal to seal APOEL’s passage to the next phase of the Europa League

ARGENTINA

Ricardo Mazacotte (Unión de Santa Fe) still hasn’t tasted victory at his new club, it was also defeat for Justo Villar (Estudiantes) and Víctor Ayala (Lanús). However the latter’s defeat came at the hands of Newell’s Old Boys the only goal being set up by Marcos Cáceres’ low centre.

ECUADOR

A goal for Domingo Martinez (Macará) sealed a 3-0 away win against Independiente with Librado Azcona and Edgar Balbuena on the home team.

Also in the Andean country, Fernando Gimenez (Emelec) was involved in the clásico defeat to Barcelona before travelling to Washington DC for the Paraguay friendly.

ITALY

We don’t usually drop down a division but this was a special case as teenage prospect Rodrigo Alborno made his senior debut for Novara in the Coppa Italia on his 19th Birthday, the former Inter Milan left back’s side won 4-3.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Mexican legion on song with hattrick of goals

A great weekend for the Mexican legion with defenders Pablo Aguilar and Paulo da Silva both securing 1-0 wins for their sides with crucial goals, Atlante’s Osvaldo Martinez capped a fine week for the expats with a penalty in the draw with América. On the other side of the world Pablo Zeballos came of the bench to set up Krylya’s late winner and Lucas Barrios’ Guanzhou Evergrande saw their lead at the top of the Chinese Super League cut to just one point. Here is a brief round-up.

MEXICO

Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana) got the winner against Dario Veron’s Pumas side following a defensive mix up

Paulo Da Silva (Pachuca) also scored the only goal for his side, making up for his own goal last week

Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) scored the second of the game, a penalty, in a 2-2 draw.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Edgar Benítez played the final half hour for Toluca as they ran out 2-1 winners at home.

SOUTH AMERICA

In Argentina there were no goals, worth noting that Orlando Gaona Lugo got a rare outing for Boca Juniors, he played the last 30 minutes in their 3-0 defeat. Victor Ayala (Lanús) and Ricardo Mazacotte (Unión Santa Fe) both made their debuts in 1-0 defeats away from home.

Wilson Pittoni was involved in yet another defeat for Figueirense who sit bottom of the Brasilerão, Víctor Cáceres (Flamengo) has finally been cleared to play but his game was postponed this weeekend.

Miguel Angel Cuellar found the net for Cobresal, with ex-Sol de América striker Victor Ferreira playing for the opponents, Unión La Calera, having moved from Caracas in Venezuela.

Over in Ecuador there was a red card for Eduardo Echeverría (Liga de Quito) in the clásico against Barcelona, he picked up two bookings in the 2-2 draw. In Perú there was better news as Mario Villasanti (Inti Gas) kept a cleansheet in a win that puts them in sixth place. Robin Ramirez (Tolima) didn’t score in Colombia as he and his teammate, Antony Silva, fell 2-1 against German Centurión’s Santa Fe side.

RUSSIA

Luis Caballero (Krylya Sovetov) started against Kuban Krasnodar but it was substitute Pablo Zeballos who had the bigger impact, his excellent cross led to the winning goal in the 86th minute. 

CHINA

No goals for Lucas Barrios (Guanzhou Evergrande) nor José Ortigoza (Shandong Luneng) as neither side managed a victory, losing 2-1 and drawing 3-3 respectively.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Apertura 2012: Team of the Year

We look at the best XI from the recently concluded 2012 Apertura in Paraguay – we welcome your thoughts and comments below!

Goalkeeper: Martin Silva (Olimpia)

Martin Silva – Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

Olimpia had the second-best defensive record in the league but it wasn’t so much to do with their back four more the excellent performances of Uruguayan goalkeeper Martin Silva who proved his quality time and again. Olimpia kept ten cleansheets this season with Silva involved in all but one (the first clásico).

Right Back: Carlos Bonet (Libertad)

He isn’t the player he used to be, no longer is Bonet to be seen roaming forward and smashing in goals like this one , but he is still an excellent defender as was a regular in the best defence in the Apertura this season. His experience and organisation was vital and his performances mean the 34-year-old defender is on the wanted list of both Olimpia and Cerro Porteño.

Left Back: Elvis Marecos (Guaraní)

Elvis Marecos after scoring – Photo: D10.com.py

Another veteran who did an excellent job this season not just in defence but was also the source of five crucial goals in a Guaraní side that desperately lacked creativity and firepower once striker Federico Santander had gone. The aurinegro fought hard to keep Marecos at the start of the season after Cerro had come calling and he justified their faith in the player by putting in some match winning performances.

Centre Back: Cristian Nasuti (Libertad)

The Argentine was brought in by Jorge Burruchaga for the league and Copa  Libertadores campaign and impressed hugely with his tenacity and ball winning capabilities. The former River Plate man was less error-prone than partner Ismael Benegas which is why he gets a place in the team of the year.

Centre Back: Enrique Meza (Olimpia)

Enrique Meza (left) – Photo: Olimpia.com.py

The best central defender at the vice-champions didn’t play towards the end of the season because of a dispute between his agent and Olimpia’s club president, Marcelo Recanate. It is debateable if Meza would have been the difference in the final two games that saw Olimpia concede four times but it wsa a shame that he was unable to have a say.

Right midfield: Francisco Garcia (Independiente)

Although the 21-year-old was mainly deployed on the left he is right-footed so gets the nod in this position. Independiente had an excellent second half of the season following Alicio Solalinde’s appointment as manager and Garcia blossomed under his wing. His wondergoal in the win against Olimpia was the pick of the bunch but he also got an important winner against Rubio Ñu and equaliser against Luque in a season that brought five goals in total.

Left midfield: Edgar Benítez (Cerro Porteño)

Edgar Benitez (right) celebrates a late goal – Photo: D10.com.py

The winger/striker principally played up front for the champions but he was as devastating in both positions, ‘Pajaro’ may only have chipped in with two goals in the second half of the season (he scored six in total) but it was his all-round play that was so important. When running at full tilt and taking on defenders he was unstoppable, too strong on the ball for the centrebacks and too fast for full backs. It was then no surprise when he won that critical penalty against Olimpia in the final game of the season. Benítez also leaves El Ciclón having played a part in all 44 of their previous 44 league games testament to the pivotal role he has had in the club.

Defensive Midfielder: Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres (Libertad)

Consistently one of the best players in the league this was Cáceres’ last season with Libertad having now joined Flamengo, once again the midfielder was the epitomy of calm in controlling the tempo of games and where necessary killing them off. He can pick a pinpoint pass for a striker, hustle a midfielder off the ball or win key headers and Libertad’s defensive record has as much to do with Topo as it does with their excellent rearguard.

Defensive Midfielder: Marcelo Palau (Guaraní)

Marcelo Palau pointing – Photo: D10.com.py

Guaraní’s new Uruguayan signing was an instant hit showing poise and determination in central midfield, he also popped up with the odd goal (like this peach against Luque) to help his side’s failing strikers. This blog is particularly excited at seeing Palau next season (he signed a four-year contract with the Asunción club after rumours he was moving to Qatar) forming a partnership with compatriot Sergio Orteman who has joined the side.

Playmaker: Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño)

The footballing ability of this former Copa Libertadores winner has never been in doubt but after he began the Apertura with more niggly injuries and rumours of missing training sessions it seemed Fabbro wasn’t motivated to play at the level we all know he can. But in the final run-in the 30-year-old brushed all those accusations aside with a series of awesome performances. He scored three times in the final five games, twice stunning freekicks including the goal that sealed the championship against Olimpia, but it was seeing him track back and impose himself on the matches that really reminded us all just how incredibly talented the number 17 is.

Striker: José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

José Ortigoza (Sol de América) – Photo: D10.com.py

The danzarín achieved 35 points this season and managed to finish in fourth place ahead of stronger teams such as Nacional and Guaraní. It was no coincidence that this upturn in fortunes ocurred at the same time they welcomed back José Ortigoza, the ex-Cruzeiro striker netted 13 times and was five goals ahead of his closest rivals (including teammate Enzo Prono) in the golden boot standings. Pace, power and deadly instinct inside of the penalty area all combined to put Ortigoza head and shoulders ahead of the division’s other forwards, therefore it was no surprise when Sol de América announced they would be selling the striker for $3 million dollars to Chinese club Shandong Luneng.

Subs Bench

Honorary mentions to Carlos Servín (Tacuary), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Eduardo Echeverría (Carapeguá) and Dario Ocampo (Guaraní) who were all considered but just missed the cut.

VOTE FOR YOUR PLAYER OF THE SEASON

By Ralph Hannah

Apertura 2012: Week 20 Preview

Penultimate weekend of the Apertura (with a round of games scheduled for midweek) and a win for Olimpia on Saturday against Sol de América will mean they can secure the title before the superclásico. Carapeguá and Cerro de Franco will be desperate to try and earn more points to help stave of relegation while Luque and Tacuary have also found themselves dragged into the mire.

Nacional vs Independiente
Estadio Arsenio Erico
30/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 2-1

Nacional will be smarting from the 5-0 thumping handed out to them by Cerro de Franco on Tuesday, they also face an in form Independiente side who are now unbeaten in seven games following their 1-0 win over Rubio Ñu. However Nacional have usually prevailed against ‘smaller’ sides at home just like they did last weekend against Carapeguá. I think they can overcome Independiente but it will be close.

BEST BET: With the home win by no means a certainty you might want to look into Over 2.5 goals – games involving these sides have averaged 3.05 so far this season only Sol de América (3.2) have seen more goals on average in their matches.

Rubio Ñu vs Luque
Estadio La Arboleda
30/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 2-0

Luque preparing to visit Rubio Ñu – Photo: Prensa Club Sportivo Luqueño

Rubio Ñu are playing so badly they couldn’t even give their new manager, Blas Cristaldo, a win last week. Luque too are in disarray, increased fan violence (a knife was thrown onto the pitch) has seen them banned from their home stadium for the two fixtures after this game and the hooligan element sent a death threat to the head of referee’s this week. On the field Luque just aren’t scoring, only hapless Tacuary have less goals, and with defenders Ronald Huth and Claudio Vargas suspended it tips the scales in favour of the albiverde.

Sol de América vs Olimpia

Estadio Defensores del Chaco
30/06/2012, 17:30
Prediction: 1-2

L-R José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono, Lorenzo Frutos – the league’s highest scorers Sol de América – Photo: Courtesy of Enzo Prono

Sol de América are the form side in the league and have the division’s most profitable partnership in José Ortigoza and Enzo Prono (21 goals between them) and they always give Olimpia a good game. However, they usually give them a good game then lose as has been the case in the previous five meetings. El Decano on the other hand can smell the title, their front three are playing very well and will be hugely motivated by the possibility to wrap up the title this weekend (if they win and Cerro lose). I can only see the nominal away side (game being played in national stadium in front of Olimpia fans) winning this.

Tacuary vs Carapeguá
Estadio Roberto Bettega
30/06/2012, 18:00
Prediction: 0-1

Tacuary have just had two games in against Olimpia and Cerro Porteño so will undoubtedly be slightly tired as they face a Carapeguá side who were full of energy against Libertad and ended that encounter on a high with a last-minute equaliser. Personally I was very impressed by Carapeguá’s organisation and while scoring goals had been their problem since Eduardo Echeverría’s purple patch ended they’ve managed at least one in the last five despite only picking up one win. Just one goal will be enough against Tacuary and I think they can get it.

BEST BET: I’m convinced by Carapeguá but if you’re not so sure look at Under 2.5 goals, Tacuary are ultra-defensive and neither side are likely to score twice

Libertad vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio Nicolas Leóz
01/07/2012, 15:30
Prediction: 2-1

Victor Caceres has been ruled out for Libertad – Photo: Club Libertad Prensa

Libertad were unconvincing midweek but were a minute away from taking all three points such is their quality, I can see something similar happening this weekend. Cerro de Franco are looking very good and motivated recording back-to-back wins for the first time this year. Libertad have been hot and cold since getting knocked out of the Libertadores and are basically playing for third place which isn’t a great incentive for players of this standard. However with some fresh faces expected in the line up (Victor Cáceres and Luciano Civelli won’t play) they will want to impress the coach and ultimately at home Libertad should take this.

Guaraní vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
01/07/2012 17:45
Prediction: 1-2

L-R Santiago Salcedo & Jonathan Fabbro scorers against Tacuary – Photo: La Nacion Paraguay

A crucial game, whatever the result on Saturday this is a ‘must win’ for Cerro Porteño and the azulgrana have got their eyes on the prize since Jorge Fossati took over, there is a doubt over Jonathan Fabbro (missed training with flu) but even without him the team spirit is there. Guaraní are playing well (2 losses in last 8 which was to Olimpia and LibertaD) but there is still pressure on the team and Pablo Caballero which seems bizarre. With Julio Manzur out of contract the aborigen will have a tough time defending against a rampant Cerro attack, I doubt they will hold out. Away win.

BEST BET: Should be decent value on Cerro


By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair for more betting tips check out CaStRoF betting tips

Midweek Wrap: Olimpia close in on number 40

Olimpia’s victory in the clásico añejo has taken them on the verge of back-to-back league wins and their 40th domestic title. They sit four points clear of Cerro Porteño with three fixtures to play between now and July 8th. The final meeting is of course the superclásico between these two great rivals. Here we round up the week with the usual awards at the bottom and some sad goings on in Luque.

Olimpia vs Guaraní
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-0 – Pablo Zeballos (pen) 11′, Maxi Biancucchi 50′

A compact and professional performance by Olimpia earned an important victory that was mainly down to their excellent front three. It was epitomised by the two goals which both involved all of the terrific trio. In the first half Luis Caballero released the pacey Maxi Biancucchi who was felled by goalkeeper Pablo Aurrecochea in what was a red card offence but punished with a just a booking. Pablo Zeballos stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, his sixth goal of the season.

In the second period Biancucchi got the goal denied by the Guaraní goalkeeper previously, this time it was good work by Caballero to find Zeballos and the number ten slotted a through ball to ‘Mini Maxi’. The Argentine controlled well with his right foot before shifting the ball onto his weaker left and finishing emphatically. The closing stages saw the aborigen probe for a consolation mainly through Dario Ocampo, but El Decano were resilient in defence and kept their fourth cleansheet in five matches.

Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Renzo Revoredo, Francisco Nájera, Salustiano Candia, Eugenio Montiel; Eduardo Aranda, Miguel Amado, Richard Ortíz; Pablo Zeballos ; Maximiliano Biancucchi, Luis Caballero

Subs: Carlos Humberto Paredes for Luis Caballero, Julio Santa Cruz for Pablo Zeballos, Arnaldo Castorino for Maxi Biancucchi

Guaraní XI: Pablo Aurrecochea; Eduardo Filippini, Elvis Marecos, Luis Cabral, Edgar Aranda; Iván González Ferreira, Juan Aguilar, Marcelo Palau, Luis de la Cruz; Dante López, Nelson Romero

Subs:  Fabio Escobar for Edgar Aranda, Jorge Mendoza for Juan Aguilar

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Cerro Porteño vs Tacuary
Estadio La Olla
(0-0) 2-0 – Santiago Salcedo 82′, Jonathan Fabbro 87′

The game started as expected, after just five minutes Cerro Porteño had won four corners and it seemed the gamble to play Edgar Benítez at left wingback was paying off with Tacuary showing no attacking intent. Jonathan Fabbro looked motivated, at one point he was even seen busting a gut to track back 30 yards, and found space early on and nearly scoring with a vicious drive tipped over by Carlos Servín. But with Tacuary disciplined and the home team throwing balls into the box to no avail, the best chances were a long range Fabbro free kick and a fierce shot by Fidencio Oviedo diverted for a corner by Servín. The halftime whistle went and Tacuary had hardly crept out of their own half let alone risked shooting.

For Cerro Porteño the second half followed a worryingly similar pattern as the first, plenty of possession, plenty of crosses but no celar cut chances and even when they got a slice of luck with a deflection that looped into the top corner it was palmed away by the super Servín. Jorge Rojas entered the fray but even the tricky winger was unable to unlock the defence with his first forays from right wing back. Finally with Fabbro having no luck from dead ball situations nor Julio Dos Santos nor Edgar Benítez, the responsibility fell to Santiago Salcedo and the striker made no mistake to the relief of the club’s fans. His free kick was sent low through a gap in the wall surprising Servín to put El Ciclón ahead. With just eight minutes remaining Tacuary finally showed some ambition and incredibly almost equalised following a nice attacking move that ended with the shot flashing just wide. But Cerro had the final word, Rojas burst down the right wing and picked out Jonathan Fabbro with a square ball placed between two defenders that the Argentine gleefully converted to cap another good individual performance under Jorge Fossati.

Cerro Porteño XI: Pablo Gavilán; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Luis Cáceres, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Édgar Benítez; Jonathan Fabbro; Santiago Salcedo, Guillermo Beltrán

Subs: Jorge Rojas for Luis Cáceres, Alejandro da Silva for Guillermo Beltrán, José Domingo Salcedo for Edgar Benítez

Tacuary XI: Carlos Servín; Gustavo Giménez, Gustavo Acosta Pera, Diego Viera, Grégor Aguayo; Pablo Espinoza, Marcos Giménez, Marcos Acosta Rojas, Ever Ortiz; Raúl Román; Jorge Ortega

Subs: Edgar Fernandez for Ever Ortiz, Lorenzo Silva for Raúl Romá, Jorge Alvarenga for Pablo Espinoza

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Carapeguá vs Libertad
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
(1-1) 2-2 – Esteban Ramirez 31′, Ever Amarilla 90′, José Ariel Nuñez 38′, Maurito Caballero 59′

Libertad gifted their opponents a goal late on to draw and mathematically end any chances of winning the league title. It was an energetic game with Carapeguá offering ample attacking threat as well as defending well for long periods of the game. Early on Libertad controlled possession with little penetration which gave the home side hope they could get something out of the match. On the half hour mark Esteban Ramirez got inside the box and while his scuffed shot caused no danger he managed to regain the ball from Jorge Ayala who had held it up with his back to goal and smash home from the six yard line.

Libertad are used to falling behind and they equalised just seven minutes later, Pablo Velazquez with a cute ball into the area for his strike partner José Airel Nuñez, the 23-year-old latched onto the pass and finished with his left foot with a precise side-footed shot between goalkeeper and defender. The Gumarelo went ahead just after halftime thanks to Porto-bound (probably) Maurito Caballero who came off the bench to score with his first touch. It was a characteristically instinctive goal a double defensive error and with El Potro’s backline static he anticipated the flight of the ball to tap in.

The sides couldn’t be separated in Itaguá – Photo: D10.com.py

With that victory was secured, or so it seemed, but Libertad went on the back foot and were suddenly conceding ground to a Carapeguá side that wouldn’t give up. Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres, making his 200th and last appearance for the club, was replaced by a defender to try and see off the onslaught but ultimately he was caught ball watching at the end in some shocking defending. A deflected shot looped over the Libertad rearguard and with goalkeeper Rodrigo Muñoz staying on his line the ball was allowed to bounce, still the Guma stood like statues and when the ball was hooked back into the area there was Ever Amarilla unmarked in space to earn a vital point in the battle to avoid the drop.

Carapeguá XI: Gustavo Arévalos; Diego Cantero, Rubén Maldonado, Marcos Arce, Jorge Florentín; Julio Irrazábal, Esteban Ramírez, Diosnel Almirón, Rodrigo Cantero; Ricardo Ortíz, Jorge Ayala

Subs: Pedro Rojas for Diosnel Almirón, Diego Benítez for Marcos Arce, Ever Amarilla for Ricardo Ortíz

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Joe Bizera, Miguel Samudio; Víctor Ayala, Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Camacho, Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Maurito Caballero for Luciano Civelli,Carlos Martínez for José Ariel Nuñez, Ismael Benegas for Víctor Cáceres

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OFF THE BALL

Blas betrays tradition: The old Paraguay football saying ‘The manager that debuts, wins’ was blown out of the water by Francisco Garcia’s excellent strike to hand Independiente a 1-0 win over Blas Cristaldo’s Rubio Ñu

Ortigoza at the double: José Ortigoza netted twice to see of Luque in a game marred by crowd violence. The Luque fans threw a knife at Sol de América midfielder Sergio Escalante when he was subbed off which landed a bit too close for comfort. They also threatened their own players, most notably Jorge ‘Mono’ Britez and it emerged today that the fans had left a death threat with the President of the Referee’s comittee warning him to make sure the referee ‘performed’ at the next match. Ugly times for the side facing relegation.

Nacional knocked for five: Amazingly not only did Nacional fail to win they were given a ‘paliza’ by Cerro de Franco who beat them 5-0, an incredible scoreline. The visitor’s must be missing defender Herminio Miranda now in Mexico with Puebla.

Orteman stays in Paraguay: Finally, the major transfer story of the week is Sergio Orteman who has decided to stay in Paraguay by signing a one-year contract with Guaraní. The two-time Copa Libertadores midfielder will team up with compatriot Marcelo Palau in central midfield for the Clausura.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Carlos Servín (Tacuary); Gustavo Gimenez (Tacuary), Francisco Nájera (Olimpia), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Diego Ciz (Sol de América); Julio Irrazabal (Carapeguá), Cristian Andersen (Cerro PF), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño); Maxi Biancucchi (Olimpia), José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Maxi Biancucchi can be a frustrating player sometimes, always wanting to take players on and wasteful in front of goal, but against Guaraní he was part of an excellent front three and won the penalty before scoring a great individual goal himself.

Maxi Biancucchi is player of the week – Photo: D10.com.py

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Independiente’s Francisco Garcia has been here before for a similar strike, picking it up on the left wing cutting inside and looping a long range effort over Osvaldo Cabral in the Rubio Ñu goal

DONKEY OF THE WEEK: Luque fans – not all of them of course but that pocket of ‘barra’ who are making it unsafe for supporters, players and officials to enjoy football in the Feliciano Cáceres.

STAT OF THE WEEK: 2 – the win over Guaraní was Olimpia’s first two-goal victory since November of 2011!

ALL THE GOALS HERE

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Talent: Top 5 home-grown strikers

Just over halfway through the Apertura 2012 we look at the Top 5 Paraguayan strikers still plying their trade in the local league. To avoid any claims of favouritism I’ve limited to a maximum of one player per club. Have a look and if you don’t agree then put your list below in the comments!

Ariel Bogado

Ariel Bogado (Nacional)

D.o.B: 24 December 1984

Height: 1,78 metres

Weight: 72 kilos

Position: Striker

Foot: Right

Club: Nacional

2012 Goals: Five

The pony-tailed 28-year-old is deceptively fast and excellent holding the ball up, he has been rotated in the Nacional team with foreign forwards German Cano and Rodrigo Teixeira. He has managed to score in all three levels of football this year (national, continental and international) posing problems for defenders in pitches across Central and South America. Having started with Nacional he moved on to Mexico, enjoying a fairly productive season with Atlas in Guadalajara before move to Tigres further north. Bogado returned to the tricolor for their 2010 Copa Libertadores campaign and helped them win the 2011 Apertura last year.

Derlis Gonzalez

Derlis Gonzalez (Rubio Ñu)

 D.o.B: 23 March 1994

  Height: 1,72 metres

  Weight: 66 kilos

  Position: Forward

  Foot: Right

  Club: Rubio Ñu (loan)

2012 Goals: Two

A teenage sensation with blistering acceleration and lighting quick feet he has tormented defenses this season when fully fit. He is so good in fact that Benfica have already snapped up this star and he is only on loan to his former club Rubio Ñu as they wanted to take him 18 and probably iron out work permit issues. While he hasn’t seen senior international football yet, Gonzalez was a star at the U17s Sudamericano last year and has turned out for the U20s more recently. Who knows we may see him in Brazil and if not certainly Chile (2015 Copa America) this kid has a bright future.

Pablo Zeballos

Pablo Zeballos (Olimpia) - Photo: clubolimpia.com.py

  D.o.B: 4 March 1986

  Height: 1.78

  Weight: 75 kilos

  Position: Striker

  Foot: Right

  Club: Olimpia

  2012 Goals: Eight

Pablo Zeballos or PZ10 as he currently referred to by Olimpia fans burst onto the scene with Sol de América as a youngster having already starred on loan in Bolivia and Oriente Petrolero. His 15 goals for Sol following 14 in 16 games in Bolivia earned him his big break in Mexico with Cruz Azul. But the goals didn’t accompany him up north and after three seasons he was back in his native Paraguay firstly with Cerro Porteño where he was topscorer in 2010 and then arch rivals Olimpia where he was also topscorer in 2011 earning ‘Paraguayan Footballer of the Year’ and the Clausura title. It is his natural finishing that makes him so dangerous but he also possesses a potent free kick and can create chances when playing as a false nine. Zeballos is constantly linked with Europe but his age and price tag might mean we get to enjoy him in Asunción for even longer.

Edgar Benitez

Edgar Benitez (Cerro Porteño) - Photo: Albirroja Prensa

  D.o.B: 8 November 1987

 Height: 1,76 metres

 Weight:  71 kilos

 Position: Winger/Forward

 Foot: Left

 Club: Cerro Porteño

 2012 Goals: Seven

The Cerro Porteño player is equally destructive when employed as either a winger or a forward, he enjoys running at defenders and is a great threat on the break. His seven goals this year don’t do justice to the overall importance he brings to El Ciclón and the Paraguay national team, he often brings those around him into the game and pulls defences out off shape to make room for his teammates. He began his career at Libertad passing through Sol de América on his way to México and Pachuca. The Pajaro enjoyed an excellent spell in Central America and his performances also earned him a place on the plane to South Africa where he represented Paraguay twice in the 2010 World Cup. Don’t be surprised to see Benitez take flight again possibly to Europe.

José Ortigoza

José Ortigoza (Sol de América) - Photo: D10.com.py

 D.o.B: 1 April 1987

 Height: 1.80 metres

 Weight:  73 kilos

 Position: Striker

 Foot: Right

 Club: Sol de América

 2012 Goals: Nine

This strong striker has been loved by fans in Brazil and South Korea for his goalscoring exploits, the high asking price from third party owners meant neither Palmeiras nor Cruzeiro decided to take the player permanently which is why he is back at original club Sol de America. It has been a huge boost for the Danzarín to have somebody of Ortigoza’s outstanding quality in the side and it is no surprise he is joint topscorer in the league despite being out injured recently. His main quality is his strength both on the ground and in the air which has allowed him to bully defenders and at times he has been simply unplayable – just ask Tacuary the team he put four past in March.

By Ralph Hannah

26 April 2012

Weekend Wrap: Olimpia bounce back as León leaves Luque

I wasn’t in Asunción over Easter so had to resort to listening to both Cerro Porteño and Olimpia on the radio (no cable in the countryside) but I did get my fill of football and of course all the weekend’s action (and there is a lot) is here. See how Cerro Porteño and Olimpia warmed up for this Sunday’s superclásico, Libertad’s limp response to a dramatic late win in the Copa Libertadores and finally, finally, Tacuary celebrated a win (as predicted here)!

Main Games

Sol de América vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Oddone Sarubbi
(1-0) 2-2 – William Mendieta 38′, Enzo Prono 47′, Julio Dos Santos (pen) 60′, Jony Fabbro (pen) 72′

Somewhat surprisingly Sol de América brushed off recent form (three straight losses) and the José Ortigoza shaped hole in attack to go two goals in front in Ciudad del Este. William Mendieta opened the scoring, picking up Enzo Prono’s flick from a long ball and skirting his way round Cerro’s defence to finish with a clever chip. Just after the break Prono profited from an incredible mix up by Pedro Benitez and Alexis Gonzalez, the Sol striker pouncing on the mistake to tuck away a simple chance.

The Cerro comeback began on the hour mark, a penalty given to the away side for handball which seemed correct – the Uruguayan left back Diego Ciz had his arm away from his body as he leaned to block an overhead kick. Julio Dos Santos whipped the spot kick into the top corner, 2-1. When Angel Enciso was shown a second yellow less than ten minutes later it was clear the tide had turned in El Ciclon’s favour and sure enough on 72 minutes they had equalised, again from 12 yards. This time Edgar Segovia went for a routine clearance only to find that Jorge Rojas had reached the ball first so rather than smashing the ball 60 yards he smashed Rojas about 6 yards instead. Clear penalty. With Dos Santos no longer on the pitch, Jonathan Fabbro stepped up and smashed it hard enough that the keeper’s touch only pushed it into the roof of the net.

Dos Santos celebrates his goal - Photo: Estadio.com.py

After the game the imposing figure of Sol coach Ricardo Dabrowski took on some serious menace when he growled to journalists after the game about the refereeing and in particular an elbow on his player William Mendieta. ” When these things happen, Sol doesn’t lose, Paraguayan football loses.” indicating that the reason that the big Paraguayan clubs suffer in international football and “ship 6 goals” [Olimpia lost 6-0 to Lanús last week] is because they don’t get the same favourable treatment from referees abroad as they do at home. The big man might have a point there.

Sol de América: Roberto Acosta; Roberto Bonet, Ricardo Martínez, Édgar Segovia, Diego Ciz; Reinaldo Ocampo, Ángel Enciso, Alfredo Rojas, David Mendieta; William Mendieta, Enzo Prono

Subs: E.Orzusa for R.Ocampo, C.Dominguez for E.Prono, S.Escalante for W.Mendieta

Sent Off: A.Enciso (two bookable offences)

Cerro Porteño: Diego Barreto; Matías Corujo, Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, Luis Cardozo; Jorge Rojas, Alexis González, Julio Dos Santos, Édgar Benítez; Jonathan Fabbro, Santiago Salcedo

Subs: W.López for J.Dos Santos, G.Beltrán for E.Benitez, L.Caceres for J.Fabbro

======================================

Olimpia vs Sportivo Luqueño
Estadio Manuel Ferreira a.k.a Para Uno
(0-1) 2-1 – Arnaldo Castorino 73′, Gabriel Montiel 82′; Carlos Martinez 14′

Olimpia took the first steps to erasing the Buenos Aires humiliation with a typically gritty win over Luque in Para Uno. The relegation strugglers were a goal up against their illustrious rivals when youngster Carlos Martinez scored. He was given time and space on the right hand side to drive home from outside the box. Luque would have been two up at halftime were it not for Salustiano Candía’s goal line heroics, Luque striker Guido Di Vanni had lifted the ball over Martin Silva and it was heading into the empty net only for Candia to race back and stretch out a leg to keep the score at 1-0.

El Decano pushed and pushed for an equaliser, it finally came 17 minutes before the end from an Arnaldo Castorino header who reacted to Sergio Orteman’s flick on following a corner. As ever the black and white machine driven forward by captain Orteman didn’t stop there. The Uruguayan shrugged off his marker on the right to send a looping cross over to the other side of the box where the debutant left-back Gabriel Montiel (the Paraguayan press insist on calling him Eugenio but he uses Gabriel on his facebook so I’m sticking with that!) had made a lung-busting run into the box and side footed in on the half volley to win the game and extend their lead at the top of the Apertura Table to four points.

Arnaldo Castorino gets the equaliser - Photo: D10.com.py

It was a wonderful moment for Montiel, from Mariano Roque Alonso on the outskirts of Asunción, who had everything to owe to his parents who supported him with the little money they had. His mother, like many Paraguayans in tough economic situations, moved to Spain to work as a maid and send money home so her son could continue his dream of playing football. Now 20 years old that dream is starting to come true.

Olimpia: Martín Silva; Francisco Nájera, Adrián Romero, Salustiano Candia, Gabriel Montiel; Eduardo Aranda, Fabio Caballero, Sergio Orteman, Alberto Contrera; Pablo Zeballos, Luis Caballero

Subs: A.Castorino for A.Contrera; S.Almirón for L.Caballero, O.Hobecker for F.Nájera

Sent Off: O.Hobecker (straight red – elbow)

Luque: Tobías Vargas; Juan Gamarra, Ronald Huth, Pablo Aguilar, Sergio Vergara; Claudio Vargas, Édgar Robles, Juan Raponi, Carlos Martínez; Guido Di Vanni, Pablo Giménez

Subs: C.Caceres Cañete for P.Gimenez, J.Britez for J.P.Raponi, R.Gamarra for C.Martinez

======================================

OFF THE BALL

Libertad punch up: Libertad’s last gasp Copa Libertadores win meant nothing at the end of a 1-1 draw with lowly Independiente in the league. In the previous home game there had been verbal exchanges after the same result against Carapeguá but this time things got physical. Pulciano Aquino, the assistant to Jorge Burruchaga, sought out ex-board member Gustavo Invernizzi who had been verbally abusing the coach’s wife as an angry mob gathered around the press conference area to vent their anger at results. A full on fight was only avoided by the private security present (if you thought that should read police, dream on) who waded in to pull the potential pugilists apart.

León out the door: Felix de León has left Luque to become the third manager to lose his job so far this season having garnered just 12 points from a possible 30 which keeps the auriazul in relegation trouble. His replacement is Carlos Kiese which has been received with a mixed reaction, in his previous tenure as Luque manager he won just one game!

Tacuary win twice! Not only did Tacuary win their first game of the year in the Primera but their namesake in the regional league of Caraguatay got the better of my local team 6 de Julio on Maundy Thursday. They are the ones in green and white!

Tacuary won 2-1 in the Easter rain

Player of the Week: Must be the aforementioned Montiel!

Donkey of the Week: Sorry Federico Carballo of Guaraní – your own goal was one for the ee-aw collection!

Goal of the Week: Derlis Gonzalez showed everybody why he is on Benfica’s books, gliding past two challenges to fire home clinically from the edge of the box. It is the first goal in the link below!

ALL THE GOALS HERE

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Results: Guaraní 2-1 Carapeguá, Tacuary 1-0 Cerro PF, Libertad 1-1 Independiente, Nacional 0-2 Rubio Ñu, Olimpia 2-1 Sportivo Luqueño, Sol de América 2-2 Cerro Porteño

Intermedia Results:  Atl. Colegiales 2 – 0 Paranaense FC, General Díaz 0 – 0 Fernando de la Mora, Sp. Iteño 2 – 2 29 de Setiembre, 2 de Mayo 1 – 2 General Caballero, 3 de Febrero 0 – 1 Resistencia FC, River Plate 1 – 1 Sport Colombia, Sp. Trinidense 0 – 0 Dvo. Santaní, San Lorenzo 1 – 3 Dvo. Capiatá

By Ralph Hannah

Weekend Wrap: The Messi family celebrate goals but mixed fortunes

While Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona in Spain, across the Atlantic his cousins Maxi and Emanuel Biancucchi netted goals in Asunción on Saturday and Sunday respectively. But while Maxi scored the only goal of the game to keep Olimpia top of the league, Emanuel scored what turned out to be nothing more than a consolation penalty as his Independiente side were mauled 5-2 by a rampant Nacional. The Ricardo Gregor stadium is where we kick off…

MAIN GAME

Independiente vs Nacional
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
(1-2) 2-5 – Emanuel Biancucchi (pen) 31′, Herminio Miranda (og) 83′; Denis Caniza 15′, Javier Gonzalez 45+1′ & 54′, Angel Orué 64′, Ricardo Teixeira 71′

This weekend I visited Independiente’s ground for the first time to watch Sunday’s early kick off between Alicio Solalinde’s strugglers and Javier Torrente’s title challengers. Just ten minutes before kick off a black cat ran past the stand, it was clearly an omen as Independiente played well for 45 minutes only to be beaten out of sight.

Stern refereeing at the game saw five yellow cards - Photo: Prensa Club Nacional

The game began with neither team fashioning an opening, Nacional were better in the middle where Marcos Riveros and the excellent Silvio Torales controlled posession and the tempo of the game. Independiente however were dangerous on the wings with Francisco García, on loan from Cerro Porteño, showing excellent movement and technique on the left hand side, supported ably by his full back Richard Lugo. But that left gaps to be exposed and after 15 minutes the Nacional right back Denis Caniza profited with an excellent volley from Ramón Caceres’ cross on the left. Caceres had got in behind the Inde defense thanks to Torales incisive pass despite having little space to work in. On the half hour mark Independiente got a deserved equaliser via an undeserved penalty, Emanuel Biancucchi was allegedly fouled and brushed himself off to score from twelve yards. It came at a time when the home side had been creating chances with García drifting inside and Luis Miño linking well with his strikers. Nacional had taken their foot of the gas after the goal and there was often 30-40 yards between the midfield and two strikers as they visitors were forced deeper and deeper.

Both sides threatened to take the lead before halftime, first Caniza had space on the right to put in a wonderful cross for Angel Orué but the big number nine headed wide, down the other end Miño nearly replicated his ‘golazo’ against Olimpia with a dangerous dipping shot from distance tipped over by Ignacio Don. In the end Independiente went into the break a goal down thanks to some shocking defending. A routine long ball to Orué (Nacional’s strategy throughout the half) saw the lanky striker win a freekick, Javier Gonzalez was quick thinking at tapped the ball to Ariel Bogado who returned the ball to Gonzalez in the area to finish. 2-1, halftime and Independiente bemused and demoralised.

Javier Gonzalez with his second of the game - Photo: Prensa Club Nacional

If that goal on the second stroke of halftime knocked Independiente, the third goal killed them as it opened the floodgates in 17 forgetful minutes. Nacional were gifted the ball and a searching pass should have been cut out by Lugo but he was too weak and allowed Gonzalez to nick it from him and finish with aplomb. The next goal was down the left, Caceres muscling past his man to square to Orué for a simple tap in. Four became five when substitute Carlos Ruiz Peralta carved out some space on the right before passing to Caniza, the right back found another sub, Ricardo Teixeira, with a clever cross who chested down to poke home. The consolation, Herminio Miranda’s comic own goal, didn’t raise a smile amongst Independiente’s players or directors who aired their complaints to the club president before entering the home dressing room after the game to let the footballers know more was expected of them.

As for Nacional they now go into the crunch Copa Libertadores with Corinthians full of confidence and still in title-challenging territory.

ALL SEVEN GOALS HERE

Independiente XI: B. Hermosilla; R. Martínez, M. Godoy, M. Almirón, R. Lugo; V. Dávalos, J. Báez, L. Miño, F. García, E.  Biancucchi, I. Iriberri

Subs: C. Machuca for F. García,

Nacional: Ignacio Don; R. Mazacotte, H. Miranda, Denis Caniza, David Mendoza, Carlos Ruiz Peralta, Marcos Riveros, Javier Villarreal, S. Torales, A. Orué, A. Bogado

Subs: C. Ruiz Peralta R. Teixeira W. Pereira

=========================================================

TV GAMES

Olimpia vs Sol de América
Estadio Para Uno
(0-0) 1-0 – Maxi Biancucchi 63′

Olimpia fresh from their heroics against Flamengo and looking ahead to their Buenos Aires showdown on Tuesday with Lanús had to overcome a stubborn Sol side to remain top of the league.

The first half ended goalless with Olimpia in control but without somebody at the sharp end of things, with Luis Caballero and Pablo Zeballos rested it was the turn of Sergio Almirón and Maxi Bianucchi to start up front. Both missing excellent chances in the early stages, Biancucchi losing his footing after a one-two with Alberto Contrera put him through on goal while his partner headed wide from a Sebastián Ariosa cross. Sol’s main tactic was to try and get balls over the top to José Ortigoza but their best chances came from headers. On 23 minutes David Mendieta got on the end of Angel Enciso’s centre but somehow Martin Silva got down to the ball, a world class save. Four minutes before the break Edgar Segovia sent a weak header into the floor which subsequently reached Silva’s gloves after a deflected freekick had given the Danzarín defender a golden opportunity.

In the second half Olimpia survived a penalty shout, Ortigoza went down under Salustiano Candia’s hefty challenge and replays indicate a spotkick would have been a fair decision. After 60 minutes came the turning point of the match, Zeballos replaced Almirón and his impact was profound. He brought verve to Olimpia’s offense almost immediately latching onto a through ball and causing Sol’s defenders to get disorganisedwith his surging runs from deep. Three minutes after his substitution and El Decano were ahead, Zeballos played a slick one-two with Contrera before putting in Biancucchi, it was the Argentine’s hardest chance of the game but he found the net, scooping the ball over Roberto Acosta. That was Maxi’s first goal since the late winner against Nacional six games earlier.

Biancucchi celebrates his goal - Photo: D10.com.py

Sol had no way past Silva who pulled off another fantastic save from a header in the 76th minute, this time down to his left from Alfredo Rojas. Ortigoza cut a frustrated figure on the eve of his 25th birthday and late on his cross to find substitute Enzo Prono was cut out by Enrique Meza who has been in commanding form in recent weeks. Olimpia held on for the victory and it was no surprise, their last 13 triumphs have been by a single goal.

Olimpia XI: M.Silva; R.Revoredo, S.Candia, A.Romero, S. Ariosa; O. Hobecker, F.Caballero, C.Paredes, A.Contrera; M. Biancucchi, S.Almirón

Subs: E.Meza for A.Romero, P.Zeballos for S.Almirón, F.Nájera for R.Revoredo

Sol de América XI:  R. Acosta; R.Bonet, E.Segovia, R.Martínez , D.Ciz; R.Ocampo, A. Rojas, Á.Enciso, D. Mendieta; W. Mendieta, J. Ortigoza

Subs: E. Orzusa for A.Encisco, E.Prono for W.Mendieta, C.Dominguez for J.Ortigoza

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Cerro Porteño vs Guaraní
Estadio La Olla
(0-0) 1-0 – Santiago Salcedo 48′

Like Olimpia, Cerro were made to battle but got the only goal of the game as the two rivals continue to battle it out at the top of the table. Travelling back from the Independiente game, I missed the goalless first half, but the two key moments were shortly after the recommencement of the second period.

Santiago Salcedo celebrates his strike - Photo: D10.com.py

48 minutes had gone when Julio Dos Santos, in his deeper role picked out Santiago Salcedo with a wonderful pass, the 30-year-old striker had moved in between the two centrebacks, controlled the ball with his chest and scored with a terrific scissor kick. It was his fourth goal in six games and was enough to sink Guaraní who now have just one goal in their last three games despite playing well in all three. Salcedo was then involved moments later when Cerro were awarded a penalty, Jorge Rojas sliced through the Aborigen defense before being clumsily chopped down by Luis Cabral, the defender saw his second red card of the season for what was a very similar challenge that saw him sent off against Rubio Ñu. Salcedo stepped up but the spotkick lacked direction and power as it trickled into Joel Silva’s grateful arms.

Salcedo nearly made amends with a vicious shot that was well saved by Silva and in general Cerro Porteño looked motivated and showed good energy in midfield as they kept pushing to extend their lead. In theory the numerical advantage and their will to keep going forward should have suited the home side but Guaraní managed to take advantage of the space despite being down to ten men. Dante Lopez rounded Barreto but took the ball too far and was unable to get a shot on target, later Barreto made a super stop with his left hand to deny Guaraní an equaliser.

The result means Cerro continue just two points behind Olimpia with one more game until the Superclásico meanwhile Guaraní have suffered the same fate a few times this season, unable to take all three points because they just lack that finishing touch up front.

Cerro Porteño: D. Barreto; M. Corujo, M. Uglessich, P. Benítez, L. Cardozo; J. Rojas, J. Dos Santos, A. González, J. Fabbro; É. Benítez, S. Salcedo

Subs: F. Oviedo for E. Benitez, I.Torres for E. Benitez, L. Caceres for J. Dos Santos

Guaraní: J. Silva; E. Filippini, L. Cabral, J. Manzur, E. Marecos; N. Romero, M. Palau, D. Figueredo, B. Cáceres; D. Ocampo; D. López

Subs: F.Escobar for B.Caceres, C.Hidalgo for D. Lopez, P.Chavez for D.Figueredo

Red Card: Luis Cabral (professional foul)

=========================================================

OFF THE BALL

Almirón Angry: The Independiente central defender walked off the pitch and instead of heading right to the dressing room he went left towards the car park and specifically a fan who had been laying into him for the heavy defeat. Fortunately he was held back by friends and the fan was dragged away. Almost 30 minutes later when Almirón emerged from the dressing room his family asked “Who was that you nearly had a fight with?” – the response was a grunt, he clearly hadn’t calmed down.

Team of the Week: Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño); Denis Caniza (Nacional), Luciano Vera (Tacuary), Pedro Benitez (Cerro Porteño), Sebastián Ariosa (Olimpia);  Julio Dos Santos (Cerro Porteño), Silvio Torales (Nacional), Fabio Caballero (Olimpia), Eduardo Echeverría (Carapeguá); Javier Gonzalez (Nacional), Pablo Velazquez (Libertad)

Player of the Week: I was tempted to give Eduardo Echeverría an honorary mention as the Carapeguá midfielder has now joined José Ortigoza at the top of the list but as I didn’t see him play it would be a slightly blind decision. Therefore this week’s winner is veteran full back Denis Caniza who scored a good goal, got an assist and was generally a pest all day down Nacional’s right hand side.

The 37-year-old is player of the week - Photo: Prensa Club Nacional

Goal of the Week: Salcedo’s scissor kick by far

ALL THE GOALS

Donkey of the Week: The barra or barras of Cerro Porteño fighting amongst themselves in the stands making it unsafe for families who want to go to a game and not pay a fortune. It should be of huge embarrassment to J.J.Zapag and his board of directors that they are still unable to control this the same weekend that their arch-rivals Olimpia were launching a new ‘smart card’ ticketing system for their socios. As one club moves forward the other stays stuck in the past.

Results: Cerro PF 0-2 Libertad, Olimpia 1-0 Sol, Independiente 2-5 Nacional, Luque 1-1 Rubio Ñu, Carapeguá 1-1 Tacuary, Cerro Porteño 1-0 Guaraní

Intermedia Results:  2 de Mayo 1 – 2 3 de Febrero, Resistencia 1 – 4 Sportivo Trinidense, Fernando de la Mora 2 – 3 Sportivo Iteño, General Caballero ZC 2 – 2 29 de Setiembre, Deportivo Capiatá 5 – 0 Atl River Plate, Paranaense FC 0 – 0 General Díaz, Sport Colombia 0- 1 Atl. Colegiales, Deportivo Santaní 0 – 0 Sp. San Lorenzo

=========================================================

By Ralph Hannah

Weekend Wrap: Olimpia and Cerro Porteño pull away from rivals

This weekend was spent in Mexico at the Coatzacoalcos Carnaval so I haven’t watched a single game, the following is therefore a brief round up drawn from the reports I’ve read. I also defer Player of the Week and Team of the Week suggestions to you, my faithful readers – vote by making a comment below or tell me on Twitter!

Main games

Guaraní vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(0-0) 0-1 – Pablo Zeballos 51’

Football returned to the Defensores del Chaco with the clásico añejo decided by the only goal, Pablo Zeballos registered his third strike in as many games to win the match. Guaraní had the better of the first half but couldn’t make an impact, it took Olimpia just six minutes of the second period to mark the difference. El Decano were never likely to surrender their lead, even less so when Luis De La Cruz was shown his second yello card to reduce the aborigen to ten men.

The win ensured Olimpia would remain top of the table ahead of their big game with Flamengo in the Copa Libertadores this week.

Guaraní XI: J.Silva; T.Bartomeus, L.Cabral, J.Manzur, E.Marecos; L.De la Cruz, M.Palau, D.Figueredo, D.Ocampo; N.Romero, F.Escobar

Subs: E.Filippini for T.Bartomeus, D.Lopez for F.Escobar, O.Ruiz for N.Romero

Olimpia XI: M.Silva; F.Nájera, A.Romero, E.Meza, S.Ariosa; E.Aranda, O.Hobecker, S.Orteman , V.Marín; P.Zeballos, L.Caballero

Subs: M.Biancucchi for L.Caballero, C.Paredes for O.Hobecker, R.Reveredo for E.Aranda

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Sol de América vs Sportivo Luqueño
Estadio Luis Gigani
(1-2) 2-3 – Enzo Prono 14’, Roberto Martinez 46’; Pablo Gimenez 30’, Juan Abente 38’, Guido Di Vanni 64’

Sol vs Luque

A goal fest in Villa Elisa as the drop in temperature allowed football to replace suffering in this early kick off. Enzo Prono got a much needed goal early on to boost his confidence and open the scoring for the third time this year for the Danzarín.  However Sol were undone by two Luque responses before the break. Pablo Gimenez got the first and then Juan Abente just after entering the field of play as a substitute scored in an 8 minute spell to put the Kuré in front as they look to haul themeselves out of the promedio. Straight after the restart Ricardo Martinez equalised for Sol before young striker Guido Di Vanni scored his third of the season to improve his already rising stock.

Sol de América XI: M. Santilli;  R. Bonet, R. Martínez, D. Arrúa, D.Ciz; R.Ocampo, Á.Enciso, E.Orzusa, W.Mendieta; E.Prono, J. Ortigoza

Subs: C.Dominguez for E.Orzusa, M.Duré for W.Mendieta

Sportivo Luqueño XI: É.Caballero; C. Vargas, R.Bogado, P.Aguilar, S.Vergara; É.Robles, J.Brítez, J.P.Raponi, C.Cáceres Cañete; P.Gímenez, G.Di Vanni

Subs: J.Abente for J.P.Raponi, Y.Cano for P.Gímenez, N.Cuevas for C.Cáceres Cañete

====================================

Tacuary vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(2-2) 2-4 – Jorge Ortega 21’ & 26’; Edgar Benitez 31’ & 58’, Santiago Salcedo 43’, Jonathan Fabbro 90’

Cerro scoring four goals and winning is no surprise but it was a shock to see them go behind on 21 minutes and alarm bells were ringing in the azulgrana ranks when they were two goals down just five minutes later. Jorge Ortega the impressive young striker was the author of both strikes as he moves onto four for the season, equalling his tally in last year’s Clausura.

But Cerro’s lethal attacking combination was enough to put them into the break on level terms, Edgar Benitez has been the best player of the Apertura so far and his goal was accompanied by teammate’s Santiago Salcedo’s. Benitez grabbed another on 58 minutes as Cerro completed the remarkable turnaround. It was only left for Jonathan Fabbro, now relegated to ‘supersub’ status by Mario Grana, to complete the scoring in the final minute to seal victory.

Tacuary XI: C.Servín; G.Giménez, P.Espinoza, D.Viera, M.Acosta Rojas; P.Palacios, L.Silva, J.Ortega, S.Alvarenga; R.Román; D.Centurión

Subs: G.Vieira for P.Palacios, C.Mora for S.Alvarenga, E.Ortiz for R.Román

Cerro Porteño XI: D.Barreto; M.Corujo, M.Uglessich, L.Cardozo, W.López; J.Rojas, J.Dos Santos, A. González y É. Benítez; S.Salcedo, R.Nanni

Subs: P.Benitez for W.Lopez, J.Fabbro for R.Nanni, F.Oviedo for J.Dos Santos

====================================

OFF THE BALL

Player of the Week: Was it Jorge Ortega for his two goals or Pajaro Benitez for his double, Martin Silva for another superman display? Vote for these players or anybody you feel deserves the award below!

Team of the Week: As above open to your suggestions, post them below!

ALL THE GOALS HERE

Stat of the Week: 435.195.000 guaranies, just over 100.000 US dollars were the combined gate receipts from the two games at the Defensores del Chaco at the weekend. The national team stadium makes a welcome return as it was Guaraní and Tacuary who were the ‘home’ teams to profit.

Primera Results: Nacional 2-1 Cerro PF, Rubio Ñu 2-1 Independiente, Guaraní 0-1 Olimpia, Sol de América 2-3 Luque, Tacuary 2-4 Cerro Porteño, Libertad 1-1 Carapeguá

Intermedia Results: 3 de Febrero 4-2 Gral. Caballero, Atl. River Plate 0-2 Dvo. Santaní, Atl. Colegiales 1-1 Dvo. Capiatá, Gral. Diaz 1-0 Sport Colombia, Sp. San Lorenzo 1-0 Resistencia, Sp. Trinidense 0-1 Sp. 2 de Mayo, Sp. Iteño 1-1 Paranaense, 29 de Septiembre 1-0 Fndo. de la Mora

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By Ralph Hannah