Olimpia vs Flamengo
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 3-2 – Sergio Orteman6′, Pablo Zeballos 52′, Eduardo Aranda 71′; Vagner Love 49′, Dario Botinelli 78′
Olimpia maintained their 100% record at home to go joint top of the group and leave Flamengo out of the qualification zone following a thrilling win in Asunción. Gerardo Pelusso watched from the stands as his side executed the game plan well to neutralise Ronaldinho and create plenty of chances of their own. Undoubtedly the man of the match was captain Sergio Orteman who rolled back the years with a commanding performance in central midfield to drive Olimpia forward.
Orteman set the tone after four minutes, he stole the ball from Ronaldinho before motoring past the former Barcelona star to huge cheers from the sell out crowd of over 30,000 packed into Paraguay’s national stadium. Minutes later the Uruguayan was on the scoresheet, Pablo Zeballos – restored to the starting line up in recent games – floated over a free kick from near the right corner flag towards the front post which was met by Orteman on the volley having stolen a march on his marker. El Decano continued to control the game after the goal, they pressed intelligently, allowing Flamengo the ball in defence but giving them no space in midfield. Ronaldinho was, of course, a target for some rough treatment and having been clattered by Eduardo Aranda early on, then bullied by Orteman in the middle he drifted harmlessly out to the left where he was competently contained by an in-form Francisco Nájera. At halftime the Brazilians looked dejected.
It didn’t take long after the break for the Rio de Janeiro club to get a smile back on their faces and a dancing spring in their step however, Vagner Love with a crushing finish from Ronaldinho’s expert pass. It had been a tiny error from Olimpia to lose the ball in their own half but they paid the ultimate price, Ronaldinho proving just how effective he is when he receives the ball in space in the middle of the pitch. But the lead was restored just three minutes later, Pablo Zeballos is on such good form at the moment and he found his fourth goal in as many games with an emphatic left foot finish into the roof of the net after his clever turn and shot was well saved by Felipe only to fall back at the Paraguayan striker’s feet.
Back in front and the midfield, particularly Aranda and a ferocious Orteman, were anticipating passes and winning the ball back regularly to frustrate Flamengo’s forays into the final third. The best chance of an equaliser was on 66 minutes when Vagner Love tested Martin Silva from close range but hopes of a point were extinguished five minutes later. Aranda is a dogged player on the right but not a great offensive weapon so it was with great surprise that he lined up his opponent 25 yards out ‘samba-stepped’ him a la Ronaldinho before firing low into the corner. The best goal of the night until Dario Botinelli put a cat among the pigeons with 12 minutes remaining with a wonderful swirling, curling, looping shot from all of 30 yards to leave Silva rooted to the spot.
Flamengo sniffed an equaliser but the sweet smell of victory was engulfing 30,000 nostrils and crucially those of Orteman who urged his players to see out the game, at one point he was holding off three red and black shirts in the corner flag killing time. There was no scare, no late heroics from Flamengo and once again the players of one of Brazil’s largest clubs trudged off the pitch at full time without a victory against the Paraguayan champions who march on determinedly in the direction of the knockout stages.
Olimpia XI: M.Silva; F.Najera, A.Romero, E.Meza, S.Ariosa; E.Aranda, S.Orteman, F.Caballero, V.Marín; P.Zeballos, L.Caballero
Subs: Maxi Biancucchi for Pablo Zeballos, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Fabio Caballero, Osvaldo Hobecker for Vladimir Marín
By Ralph Hannah
NB: For more photos of the victory check the wonderful gallery at D10.com.py