The Apertura restarted this week with the 17th round of games on Tuesday and Wednesday, both Olimpia and Cerro went behind only to record a 2-1 win with the latter still three points behind the defending champions. In fact the similarity of the games was startling with both teams relying on their ‘physical’ striker to score both goals, Luis Caballero and Roberto Nanni the respective heroes.
Olimpia vs Libertad
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-1) 2-1 – Luis Caballero 39′ & 50′; Pablo Velazquez 5′
Libertad were unfazed by the hour-long delay following a power cut in the Paraguay capital, the Gua opened the scoring after just five minutes through striker Pablo Velazquez. The 25-year-old tapped in after José Ariel Nuñez’s low cross from the left had been diverted into his path by teammate Rodolfo Gamarra. It was the perfect start for the title chasers but they paid the ultimate price for sloppy defending just before halftime. Renzo Reverdo’s throw-in down the right found a totally unmarked Maxi Biancucchi who had ample time to loop a cross into the box where it was met by Luis Caballero’s towering header.
Olimpia grabbed the winner just after the break, Caballero again profited from some slack defending that left him unmarked to smash the ball in on the half volley. It was Cristian Nasuti who had left his man free, the Argentine central defender had headed out Eduardo Aranda’s cross and wanted to push out but the rest of the defence were static leaving Caballero onside in the box.
The win takes Olimpia to 40 points and means that under the presidency of Marcelo Recanate they have always reached the 40-point threshold.
Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Renzo Revoredo, Francisco Nájera, Salustiano Candia, Eugenio Montiel; Eduardo Aranda, Fabio Caballero, Richard Ortiz; Pablo Zeballos, Luis Caballero, Maximiliano Biancucchi
Subs: Miguel Amado for Fabio Caballero, Osvaldo Hobecker for Eduardo Aranda, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Luis Caballero
Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet; Cristian Nasuti, Ismael Benegas y Miguel Samudio; Rodolfo Gamarra, Víctor Cáceres, Jonathan Santana y Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez y Pablo Velázquez
Subs: Victor Ayala for Carlos Bonet, Cristian Menendez for Rodolfo Gamarra, Nestor Camacho for Victor Cáceres
Sent Off: Miguel Samudio
Cerro Porteño vs Nacional
Estadio La Olla
(0-1) 2-1 – Roberto Nanni 81 & 82; Gustavo Cristaldo 42′
Cerro Porteño were victorious in their first game under new coach Jorge Fossati who changed formation to a 3-5-2 formation that was close to a 3-3-2-2 with both Jonathan Fabbro and Julio Dos Santos starting in midfield. There were recalls for Luis Cáceres and Iván Torres (deployed as wing backs) and 2011 Copa Libertadores topscorer Roberto Nanni who was the difference between the two teams.
Cerro started much better and were in control of the game only to concede on the counter attack, Gustavo Cristaldo profiting from the breakaway started by Ramón Coronel to finish with a low shot past Diego Barreto.
But El Ciclón showed their desire for a title in their centenary year and dug in during the second half to turn the game around and grab the win. Nanni got the equaliser with a typical headed goal after substitute Edgar Benitez’s excellent cross from the left wing. Just seconds later they were ahead through Nanni who picked up the loose ball in the box before rounding the goalkeeper with a nifty bit of footwork. The goal shouldn’t have stood, Edgar Benitez was marginally offside when Julio Dos Santo’s dinked pass was played to him, but the neutrals and of course Cerro fans won’t care, it keeps the title race well and truly alive.
Cerro Porteño: Diego Barreto, Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Luis Cáceres, Iván Torres; Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Jonathan Fabbro; Guillermo Beltrán, Roberto Nanni
Subs: Edgar Benitez for Guillermo Beltrán, José Domingo Salcedo for Iván Torres, Pablo Gavilan for Diego Barreto
Nacional XI: Ignacio Don; Ramón Coronel, Matías Pérez, Raúl Piris, Marcos Miers; Carlos Ruiz Peralta, Silvio Torales, Derlis Orué, Marcos Riveros; Gustavo Cristaldo, Ariel Bogado
Subs: Ricardo Mazacotte for Derlis Orué, Javier Gonzalez for Ariel Bogado
Sol de América kept their good run going, Enzo Prono and José Ortigoza scoring in a 2-0 win against lowly Tacuary. Luque and Guaraní played out a passionate 2-2 draw and it was also honours even between Cerro de Franco and Independiente. Rubio Ñu continue to sink under Juan Arce losing away to Carapeguá who had gone nine games without a win.
ALL THE GOALS: You can see them here!
By Ralph Hannah