Weekend Wrap: Nacional, Sol and Cerro, three’s a crowd at top of table

Main Game

Libertad vs Guaraní
Estadio Nicolas Leoz
(2-0) 2-2 – Menendez ’23, Caceres ’29; Palau ’47, Marecos ’87

A sterling fightback from Pablo Caballero’s Guaraní side earned them a point and denied a full strength Libertad side top spot. The home team had gone two goals up after 30 minutes only to be pegged back with four minutes left on the clock, their second consecutive draw.

Libertad Freekick Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

Guaraní had the best of the opening exchanges, the diminuitive Dario Ocampo darting around in midfield with shaven-headed Marcelo Palau every bit the tough man as Guaraní looked more comfortable in midfield and seemed to be winning all the 50/50 challenges. Yet it was Libertad who took the lead after 23 minutes, Cristian ‘Polaco’ Menendez received the ball on the left hand side of the area and opened up his body to sweetly sidefoot home. The 23-year-old Argentine has scored first in three of Libertad’s four league games this season. Just seven minutes Libertad doubled their lead through Victor ‘Topo’ Caceres, the talented midfielder with a clever touch on the edge of the box to beat his man, the finish a carbon copy of Menendez’s.

Guaraní were rocking, Twitter began lining up managerial replacements for Pablo Caballero, and Menendez had an outrageous drag back goal ruled out for offside. It was only in the lead up to half time that the aborigen could find their breath, they won a few set pieces and Elvis Marecos nearly pulled one back with a swirling cross that beat  Rogerio Muñoz at the near post only to hit the aforementioned upright.

The visitor’s started the second 45 as they had finished the first but Palau went one better than his left back, his fierce 25 yard drive left Muñoz rooted to the spot and flew in the corner of the net. Palau would go close after 60 minutes after an Eduardo Fillippini shot was tipped over five minutes previously. Libertad were still having forays forward, Menendez was excellent in his role as a target man holding the ball up and the introduction of Maurito Caballero gave them pace in attack. Caceres was close to his second, stinging Joel Silva’s hands with a long range effort on 75 minutes.

Libertad and Guaraní players tussle for ball Photo: http://www.d10.com.py

Ultimately though, Libertad were unable to close off the game has they had done earlier in the season and in Copa Libertadores encounters, the ball was rarely in the middle third as both teams counter attacked and the openess suited Guaraní who were chasing an equaliser. They finally got it on the 87th minute, Ocampo was too tricky down the right and his cross eluded three Gumarelo defenders to be turned in by Marecos at the far post. Ocampo nearly won it at the death, Dante Lopez’s deflected shot fell at his feet inside the box but before he could get it under control Muñoz had closed down the angle.

A thrilling game and full credit to Guaraní for getting a share of the spoils.

Libertad XI: R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, I.Benegas, N.Bareiro, M.Samudio; R.Gamarra, V.Caceres, S.Aquino, L.Civelli; P.Velazquez, C.Menendez

Subs: Victor Ayala for Rodolfo Gamarra ’69, Maurito Caballero for Pablo Velazquez ’70, Nestor Camacho for Cristian Menendez ’82

Yellow Cards: L.Civelli, R.Muñoz ’40, V.Caceres ’51, I.Benegas ’76

Guaraní XI: J.Silva; E.Fillippini, F.Carballo, J.Manzur, E.Marecos; L.De la Cruz, J.Mendoza, M.Palau, D.Ocampo; C.Hidalgo, F.Escobar

Subs: Dante Lopez for Carlos Hidalgo ’59, Tomas Bartomeus for Federico Carballo ’66, Ivan Gonzalez Ferreira for Jorge Mendoza ’72

Yellow Cards: J.Manzur ’20, E.Marecos ’26, F.Carballo ’52, L. De La Cruz ’75


TV Matches

Cerro PF vs Sportivo Carapeguá
Estadio A. Oddone Sarubbi
(0-0) 1-0 – Leonardo Delvalle ’86

A late strike from Leonardo Delvalle, previously guilty of Miss of the Week, gave Cerro PF their first win of the season and took them out of the relegation zone (see tables) for the first time this season. As expected this was a hard fought clash with little to pick between the two newly promoted sides. Cerro PF have been more organised defensively than their opponents from the Department of Paraguarí and it was crucial as they kept their second cleansheet of the tournament.

Cerro de Franco's goalscorer, Delvalle Photo: Diario Popular

The goal itself came late, Delvalle had gambled forward from midfield to get on the end of the Fulvio Duarte’s pinpoint cross.

Cerro PF XI: R.Aguero; C.Gimenez, F.Balbuena, N.Figueredo, J.Gonzalez; F.Duarte, M.Godoy, L.Delvalle, C.Andersen; S.Samudio, R.Leichtweiss

Subs: Marcos Prieto for Sergio Samudio ’46, R.López for Cristian Andersen ’62, F.López for Rogerio Leichtweiss ’67

Yellow Cards: M.Godoy ’69, N.Figueredo ’80

Carapeguá XI: G.Arévalos; D.Cantero, J.Caceres, M.Arce, H.Fleitas; A.Olmedo, E.Ramirez, D.Almirón, E.Echeverría; J.Ayala, E.Amarilla

Subs: Ricardo Ortiz for Hugo Fletias ’46; Jorge Florentín for Ever Amarilla ’70, Danilo Carando for Eduardo Echeverría ’87

Yellow Cards: J.Ayala ’69, R.Ortiz ’84


Independiente vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio A.Oddone Sarubbi
(0-2) 1-4 – Iriberri ’72; Dos Santos ’29, Salcedo ’32, E.Benitez ’48, Fabbro ’85

As the first half ticked on it seemed that Cerro Porteño were going to make hard work of light opposition once again, balls went long to Santiago Salcedo with creative forces Jorge Rojas and Julio Dos Santos mere spectators and the best chance in the opening 28 minutes was a corner. And then up popped Walter Lopez, back from suspension, the left back marauded down the left side and launched a looping cross towards Pedro Benitez, the central defender up from a recent set piece headed across goal for captain Dos Santos to nod in. Three minutes later Cerro were two goals up and Salcedo in his second game since his return was on the scoresheet. A flowing Cerro move that started on Lopez’s flank saw the ball played into ‘SaSa’, his first touch wasn’t great but he got a second chance as the ball fell kindly towards him, a flick past the defender, ball still in the air and he crashed the volley home. Cue delirium, or was it relief?

Cerro came out for the second half all guns blazing and another good move was started and finished by Edgar ‘Pajaro’ Benitez after getting on the end of Salcedo’s shot cum cross. An Independiente equaliser, long ball over the top  cut back and well taken by Imanol Iriberri, was nothing more than a footnote. In fact El Ciclón had one more Jonathan Fabbro sized trick up their sleeve. The substitute was appearing for the first time since pulling out of a match squad two weeks ago and reminded us all what we had missed. He received Rojas’ pass with his back to goal and jinked to his right as he touched the ball to his left, defender out the picture and just eyball to eyeball with Roque Cardozo in goal he dinked the ball over him.

Cerro win again, but this time in style.

Independiente XI: R.Cardozo; Peña, M.Godoy, Almirón, R.Salinas; J.Báez, A.Ortiz, L.Miño, O.Diaz; I.Irrebi, E.Duré

Subs: Cesar Duarte for Angel Ortiz ’46, Yeison Ibarrola for Osvaldo Diaz ’55, Oscar Diaz for Elvis Duré ’74

Yellow Cards: M.Godoy ’45

Cerro Porteño XI: D.Barreto; M.Corujo, P.Benitez, M.Uglessich, W.Lopez; F.Oviedo, A.Gonzalez; J.Rojas, J.Dos Santos; S.Salcedo, E.Benitez

Subs: Jony Fabbro for Santiago Salcedo ’59, Roberto Nanni for Edgar Benitez ’68, Luis Cardozo for Pedro Benitez ’70

Yellow Cards: J.Fabbro ’67, F.Oviedo ’81


Rubio Ñu vs Olimpia
Estadio A.Oddone Sarubbi
(1-1) 2-3 – Nery Cardozo ’21, Gilberto Velazquez; Luis Caballero, Francisco Nájera, Vladimir Marín

The third game in three consecutive days at 3 de Febrero’s stadium in Ciudad del Este was arguably the best of the bunch. Rubio Ñu played well against a tired looking Olimpia side that just refuses to throw the towel in. In the end it was the Colombian couple, Francisco Nájera and Vladimir Marín who swung the game in Olimpia’s favour having trailed twice.

Rubio Ñu were the better side from the off, as usual they wanted possession and saw lots of it early on, Toro Acuña dictating play and early on sent a 50 yard guided missile to Diego Chamorro who shot weakly with his right foot. Olimpia were by no means out of it, Marín shot wide after Velazquez  (can’t remember which one!) had dawdled on the ball and after 20 minutes Enrique Meza had stayed forward from a free kick only to land a free header over the bar. Almost immediately after that chance Rubio Ñu were ahead, Nery Cardozo back from injury picked up a pass from Cesar Llamas in a seemingly innocent position only to hit a sweet left foot shot into the corner.

Olimpia looked fatigued, especially their strikers and as Pablo Zeballos came off cursing (his injury not his coach) Luis Caballero looked at the bench hoping his number was up, he looked knackered. But Caballero is Olimpia through and through and epitomises much of what this team’s spirit and will to win is about. With six minutes to go before half time he ensured El Decano would go into the half time break level, turning Cristian Sosa inside out on the left side of the box before finishing with his unfavoured zurda.

The second half was something of a goal fest as first Rubio Ñu refused to lie down and then Olimpia stepped up a gear. Cardozo forced a corner when his header was saved but from the resulting dead ball, Martin Silva could do nothing as Gilberto Velazquez crashed a header home. Olimpia began to squeeze, they found energy from God knows where and they began forcing corners, gaining territory and on 61 minutes the equaliser came. Nájera had brought the ball out of defence and with space in front of him decided to have a pop from 30 yards and the ball fizzed past Blas Valenzuela onto the foot of the post and in. Now Olimpia weren’t squeezing but swarming, wave after wave of attack and Maxi Biancucchi had innumerable chances to score but couldn’t. It was Marín who got the winner, busrting into the box onto Eduardo Aranda’s clever through ball to lift the ball over Valenzuela. Any chance of a Ñuense fight back died with Cardozo’s sending off, an elbow to the face of Meza drew blood and whether he meant it or not the referee saw the red stuff and so did the young striker.

Marín celebrates his goal, the winner Photo: http://www.D10.com.py

Olimpia got a much needed victory and are one point off the top proving that much like a drunken admirer, they might not be pretty but they just won’t go away.

Rubio Ñu XI: B.Valenzuela; A.Rodriguez, O.Velazquez, G.Velazquez; C.Sosa, D.Chamorro;E.Ramos, R.Acuña,  C.Llamas; N.Cardozo, D.Gonzalez

Subs: Fredy Coronel for Roberto Acuña ’71, Josias Cardoso for Cristian Sosa ’72, Francisco Vera for Oscar Velazquez ’90

Yellow Cards: J.Cardoso ’78, G.Velazquez ’81

Red Card: N.Cardozo ’73

Olimpia XI: M.Silva; F.Najera, A.Romero, E.Meza; E.Aranda, S.Ariosa; S.Orteman, R.H.Perez, V.Marín; L.Caballero, P.Zeballos

Subs: Maxi Biancucchi for Pablo Zeballos ’33, Salustino Candia for Enrique Meza ’76, Alberto Contrera for Vladimir Marín ’81

Yellow Cards: M.Silva ’79


Off the Ball

Team of the Week (4-3-3): Carlos Servín (Tacuary);  Francisco Nájera (Olimpia), Diego Viera (Tacuary), Denis Caniza (Nacional), Walter Lopez (Cerro Porteño); Marcelo Palau (Guaraní), Victor Caceres (Libertad), Dario Ocampo (Guaraní); Cristian Menendez (Libertad), Santiago Salcedo (Cerro Porteño), Ariel Bogado (Nacional)

Player of the Week: The Uruguayan left-back Walter Lopez was sent off on his debut for Cerro Porteño and didn’t have a good game that day but back from suspension he was one of the stars as El Ciclón thrashed Independiente, his attacking tendencies the catalyst for the first two goals.

Walter Lopez Photo: http://www.D10.com.py

Goal of the Week:  Take a bow Marcelo Palau, the defensive midfielder’s long shot left Muñoz stranded and started the Guaraní fightback

Goals of the Week: All 18 goals here

So Long, Farewell: Just four games in and we have our first managerial casualty. Carapeguá’s Eradio Espinoza left his post after losing to Cerro PF, his other two losses were close fought games with Olimpia and Cerro Porteño. The Potro have replaced him with Mario Cesar Jacquet.

An end to El Este? Gate receipt figures suggest that the triple header in Ciudad del Este brought less revenue than hoped for, personally I think three games in three games is a bit of overkill but I am a big supporter of Cerro and Olimpia playing more games outside of Asunción to reach fans who couldn’t otherwise see them.

Donkey of the Week:  The policeman who allowed Guaraní fans to continuely spit on Miguel Samudio at corners, rather than doing something he just looked and laughed. Burro.

Stat of the Week: 14.195Overall attendence (excluding season ticket holders), an average of 2.366 per game.

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

By Ralph Hannah


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