Weekend Wrap: Olimpia, Cerro and Guaraní with hard fought wins in title battle

The wins for Olimpia, Cerro and Guaraní has put them 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the table respectively while 4th, 5th and 6th all suffered defeats, namely Sol, Nacional and Libertad. It is too early to call this a three-horse race but with Libertad seemingly distracted it seems the country’s three biggest clubs are starting to rise to the top. Next week’s clásico añejo between Olimpia and Guaraní will be one to savour.

Cerro Porteño vs Libertad
Estadio La Olla
(1-0) 1-0 – Walter Lopez 29′

Cerro Porteño went temporarily top of the table with a narrow win against a Libertad side who seem to have run out of steam, currently boasting one win in their last six games. Uruguayan defender Walter Lopez got the only goal of the game, a deft header, as El Ciclon recorded only their second cleansheet of the year and held on for a crucial win.

Cerro were certainly the better side in the first half, Libertad with a ‘mix’ team fielded their reserve full backs Jorge Moreira and Gustavo Mencia who struggled against Edgar Benitez, outstanding again, and Jorge Rojas. Julio Dos Santos had been moved back from his usual ‘enganche’ role to sit as a deep lying playmaker which worked as Libertad’s midfield had to give him space as they tried to help cover their full backs. The goal came from just that kind of situation on 29 minutes, Benitez was too strong for Moreira but as Topo Caceres came across to support his right back he clipped the Cerro Porteño player. Dos Santos fizzed in the resulting free kick for Lopez to score his first goal for the azulgrana.

However, the game could have been so different if the referee and his assistant had been more vigilant after 3 minutes. Roberto Nanni lived up to his reputation as a bruising forward with an elbow in the face of centreback Ismael Benegas. The officials missed it and Nanni survived while Benegas was on and off for bandaging during the first 45 minutes as the Libertad medics couldn’t stop the bleeding. By half time Libertad had got into the game but were unable to create anything clear cut, their most dangerous player was Nestor Camacho playing on the left, but they had to be constantly alive to the threat of Pajaro Benitez who was dangerous on the counter.

Benegas battle bravely on despite his wound from Nanni - Photo: golazotropical.com.py

In the second half Libertad had their chances and squeezed game at times as Cerro began to concede territory after 60 minutes by bringing on a defender for Nanni.  . Throughout the second period the home side conceded possession and backed away allowing Libertad more time but Mariano Uglessich in particular defended well. Libertad had chances to equalise, undoubetdly Pablo Velazquez’s header onto the post from a wonderful Victor Ayala cross was the best of the bunch. But Cerro were firm and Libertad were left to ponder how they are failing to cope with the two competitions (League and Copa) despite having such a strong squad.

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Cerro XI: D.Barreto; M.Corujo, M.Uglessich, P.Benítez, W.López; J.Rojas, J.Dos Santos, A.González, E.Benítez; R.Nanni, S.Salcedo

Subs: L.Cardozo for R.Nanni, F.Oviedo for A.Gonzalez, L.Caceres for W.Lopez

Libertad XI: R.Muñoz; J.Moreira, J.Bizera, I.Benegas,G. Mencia, V.Ayala, V.Cáceres, J.Santana, N.Camacho; J.A.Núñez, P.Velázquez

Subs: M.Caballero for J.Moreira, L.Civelli for V.Cáceres, R.Gamarra for N.Camacho

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Sol de América vs Guaraní
Estadio Luis Giagni
(0-0) 0-1 – Dario Ocampo 79′

During the week Sol’s star striker José Ortigoza said “I’m only playing because I have to” in reference to the early kick off time which sentenced the teams to play in the brutal Sunday afternoon heat. I didn’t see the first half, as I decided to empathise with the players and walk round Ñu Guazu in the beating sun. It was to no surprise that I returned for the second half to find the score 0-0, as mentioned in the preview, heat is usually a goal killer.

Guaraní certainly had the better of the second half and in the end it was a case of role reversal, the away side controlling possession and territory with the home team sitting back and trying to nick a goal on the break. Dario Ocampo’s winner had been coming, the aborigen had a 15 minute spell of pressure prior to his header. Firstly, on 64 minutes,  Ocampo played the pass for Fabio Escobar who had made a good diagonal run but his left foot shot was expertly saved by Mario Santilli, the goalkeeper was called into action again just five minutes later tipping over Elvis Marecos’ header from a corner. Marecos, who had been playing very advanced from his left back position also flashed a long shot wide just moments before the goal.

Guaraní celebrate their vital winner - Photo: abc.com.py

The goal came with eleven minutes left on the clock Dario Ocampo is only a tad taller than a garden gnome but he managed to score with a header. Substitute Ivan Gonzalez Ferreira was alive to the loose ball and picked out Luis de la Cruz on the right who measured the timing and accuarcy of his cross perfectly to find the little man unmarked in the box. Incredibly Ocampo used his head again in the 86th minute to preserve Guaraní’s lead, Joel Silva was off his line when he was chipped but the midfielder had rushed back and managed to divert the ball over the crossbar.

Another win for Guaraní, three in a row, and another excellent performance from the little Argentine Ocampo.

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Sol XI: M. Santilli; R.Bonet, R.Martínez, E.Segovia, D.Arrúa; R.Ocampo, E.Orzusa, A.Enciso, D.Ciz; W.Mendieta, J.Ortigoza

Subs: E.Prono for W.Mendieta, S.Escalante for R.Ocampo, J.Maldonado for D.Ciz

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

Subs: C.Hidalgo for F.Escobar, I.Gonzalez Ferreira for N.Romero, O.Ruiz for L. De la Cruz

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Olimpia vs Tacuary
Estadio Manuel Ferreira
(1-0) 2-1 – Pablo Zeballos 29′, Vladimir Marín 46′; Diego Centurión

For all Olimpia’s problems in the lead up to this encounter (see OFF THE BALL below) they pulled together to win the game as expected and return to the top of the table having been briefly displaced by arch rivals Cerro Porteño. Goals from midweek heroes Pablo Zeballos and Vladimir Marín was enough for victory with substitute Diego Centurión getting a consolation for the hapless Tacuary team.

Zeballos celebrates his goal against Tacuary - Photo: D10.com.py

Tacuary played much better than their last two outings where they conceded ten goals, they were organised at the back and managed to press Olimpia’s midfield and unsettling teenager Hernan Perez early on (who later performed much better). It was an archetypal Tacuary performance, lots of niggly fouls to break up play and the defence giving Olimpia’s three strikers no room. The only chance of note for the home side in the first 20 minutes was a wayward Sergio Orteman shot.

On 28 minutes the quality of the champions showed, albeit with a little help from Biancucchi’s handball in the build up, as Messi’s cousin ran at the defence before squaring the ball from the right for Pablo Zeballos who made no mistake. With that the Tacuary defence began to show cracks, Carlos Servín saved from Biancucchi, put through one on one with a great Luis Caballero pass and Caballero himself headed just wide from a wonderful Marín cross when he found an inch of space on the left.

Marín was on the scoresheet himself just seconds after half time, his curling free kick from the right beat everybody and snuck into the Servín’s right hand corner. With that Olimpia were in control and began to take the foot off the gas after the hour mark, Tacuary had a glimpse of a chance when substitute Diego Centurión shot straight at Martin Silva but there was nothing until the 74th minute when Centurión went one better. Raúl Román found full back Gustavo Gimenez on the right and his good cross was nodded in by the forward. With the sniff of a point, Tacuary grew into the game, Centurión again got in behind the defence but Silva proved himself equal to the task bearing down on the 29-year-old striker to block his shot.

Tacuary threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Olimpia with a flurry of set pieces in stoppage time but to no avail as the Olimpia machine rolls on, last defeat in the league? Libertad in October 2011, 16 games ago.

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Olimpia XI: Silva; Revoredo, Romero, Meza, Candia; Orteman, H.Perez, Marin; Zeballos, Biancucchi, Caballero

Subs:  F.Najera for E.Meza, A.Castorino for M.Biancucchi, C.Paredes for P.Zeballos

Tacuary XI: C.Servín; G.Giménez, L.Vera, D.Viera, M.Acosta; E.Ortiz, C.Mora, P.Espinosa, S.Alvarenga; R.Román; J.Ortega

Subs: D.Centurión for C.Mora

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OFF THE BALL

Paraguay U20s Victory: Paraguay continued their preparations for next year’s Sudamericano in Argentina with a trip to Corrientes to face Boca Unidos U20s. The albirrojitas won 2-0 with goals from Sol de América’s Cecilio Dominugez and a freekick from Diego Escobar.

Paraguay U20s celebrate victory in Argentina - Photo: Alejandro Bogado via facebook

Paraguay U20s XI: Diego Morel; Carlos González , Teodoro Paredes, Rubén Monges, Manuel Balbuena; Iván Ramírez, Diego Escobar, Ángel Lucena, Bladimiro Ojeda; Juan Sánchez, Cecilio Domínguez

Subs: Carlos Desvars, Ariel Benítez, Carlos Avalos, William Candia, Miguel Almirón, Gustavo Santacruz, Victor Del Puerto

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Referee’s look to East: With the state of refereeing seemingly getting worse by the day the head of referees has turned to Japan with the idea of an exchange to help with referee’s training. Personally I commend this positive step to try and solve this now chronic problem.

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Olimpia players with ‘terrorist’ letter: This weekend the Olimpia players didn’t go into ‘concentración’ owing to a dispute over unpaid wages and bonuses. Originally Marcelo Recanate stated he was ‘up to date’ with all the payments except for Martin Silva (who had gone to the press earlier in the week) which brought a peculiar reaction on Sunday before the game. Olimpia players handed the press a sheet with all the outstanding payments underlined with “The punishment for being Champions”. MR later reacted to the note saying it was like a ‘terrorist’ letter referring to how it appeared with no signature. If this issue isn’t sorted by Thursday, coach Gerardo Pelusso has said he will resign – MR says he will go with him. We have of course seen this all before, everything will be sorted by Wednesday night.

Letter handed to press before the game - Photo: @CaeDuarte

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Luque losers: After last week’s sad reports about Luque fans running riot and smashing up cars we had more problems on Sunday as the auriazul’s game was temporarily suspended when the referee was hit by a streamer thrown from the expensive seats or ‘preferencia’ section. Luque deep in the relegation zone were losing 2-1 at the time and had just been reduced to nine men. This blog awaits tough sanctions from the APF although it could be waiting a long time.

Magic Mario: Carapeguá have won all three games since Mario Jacquet took charge, the latest triumph was against Nacional, they are pulling clear of the promedio.

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Team of the Week: M.Santilli (Sol); G.Gimenez (Tacuary), M.Uglessich (Cerro), Ismael Benegas (Libertad), E.Marecos (Guaraní); D.Ocampo (Guaraní), Julio Dos Santos (Cerro), José Báez (Independiente), Vladimir Marín (Olimpia);  E.Benitez (Cerro), P.Zeballos (Olimpia)

Player of the Week: He was desperately close last week but now, finally, Dario Ocampo gets the coveted award – the darting winger is dangerous wide with his crossing and when he cuts inside dribbling or to thread a pass through. This weekend he got the winner for Guaraní with his head, despite being just 1.63 metres.

Dario Ocampo is player of the week - Photo: abc.com.py

Goal of the Week: Not really sure, enjoyed Lopez’s clever header and Carapeguá scored a good goal but no outright winner – any suggestions yourselves?

Donkey of the Week: Edgar Orzusa, a talented player but he lost his head in the Sunday afternoon heat as his Sol side were losing to Guaraní in a closely fought game. With seconds on the clock and Guaraní keeping the ball in the corner he went through the back of his opponent with a vicious kick – incredibly the referee didn’t send him off despite the serious injury he could have caused with such a mindless act.

Stat of the Week: 318.130.000 guaranies or a touch over US$74,000 were the combined gate receipts for Week 7

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ALL THE GOALS

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

By Ralph Hannah

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One response to “Weekend Wrap: Olimpia, Cerro and Guaraní with hard fought wins in title battle

  1. Pingback: Copa Libertadores Preview: Vasco da Gama vs Libertad | The Paraguay Football Blog

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