Weekend Wrap: Olimpia slip up but extend their lead to four

Tacuary vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(0-0) 0-0

Olimpia, with nine wins in their last 11 games against Tacuary, just couldn’t break down the stubborn resistance of the bottom club in a frustrating 90 minutes for the league leaders. El Decano lined up in the same 4-3-3 formation that beat Libertad in midweek with seemingly Russian-bound Luis Caballero and Pablo Zeballos up front alongside Maxi Biancucchi. For Tacuary they had Gregor Aguayo back from a six-month suspension although another four teammates had been left out for poor performance and possible indiscipline during the concentración.

Servín (left) and Richard Ortiz (middle) were protagonists – Photo: D10.com.py

Surprisingly it was Tacuary who had the first chance, after just two minutes their best outfield player Jorge Ortega forced a good save from Martin Silva when the ball fell to him in the box. The nominal home side were defeinding well, in the first 20 minutes Olimpia were restricted to long shots and their set piece delivery wasn’t troubling the Tacuary goal. In fact Tacuary should have gone ahead, veteran Raul Román stung Silva’s hands with a half volley on the edge of the area and the loose ball fell to Ortega in the box, his shot was pushed away by a wonderful reaction save by the big Uruguayan goalkeeper. Olimpia’s best chances in the first half came from Richard Ortiz’s head, firstly after 29 minutes a wonderful cross from Eduardo Aranda found the Paraguay international but Carlos Servín pulled off an excellent save to turn the ball away for a corner. On 43 minutes Servín made another incredible stop this time with just one hand as Eugenio Montiel’s cross had found Ortiz unmarked in the box.

Roque Santa Cruz was in the crowd to watch his brother Julio –
Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia began the second half as they’d finished the first, Maxi Biancucchi flashing a shot wide after 54 minutes but in general they were struggling to keep the ball and lacked ideas in the final third. In general moves broke down on the edge of the Tacuary area but Biancucchi did finally worm his way into the box after 65 minutes before being felled by a robust tackle, replays suggest that it should have been a penalty. The introduction of Alberto Contrera seemed to work for Olimpia as the winger began getting balls into the penalty area, central defender Salustiano Candia could have profited from one such cross but his diving header was inches wide. In the final minutes there was another chance as a corner was allowed to bounce twice in the six yard box but Tacuary managed to avert danger with no Olimpia player able to make a telling connection. Roque Santa Cruz was in the crowd to watch his younger brother Julio make his debut, although the striker didn’t carve out an opportunity for himself. Fittingly the final chance of the game arrived at Richard Ortiz’s head on 92 minutes, once again he met a corner in terrific fashion but as the ball flew past Servín it also sailed over the bar.

Tacuary XI: Carlos Servín; Gustavo Giménez, Marcos Acosta Pera, Diego Viera, Gregor Aguayo; Pablo Espinoza, Marcos Giménez, Marcos Acosta Rojas, Gerardo Benítez; Raúl Román; Jorge Ortega

Subs: Ever Ortíz for Gerardo Benítez, Lorenzo Silva for Marcos Acosta Rojas, Fernández for Raúl Román

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: Osvaldo Hobecer for Eduardo Aranda, Alberto Contrera for Eugenio Montiel, Julio Santa Cruz for Maxi Biancucchi

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Guarani vs Sol
Estadio Dos Bocas
(0-1) 2-1 – Iván Gonzalez Ferreira 50′, Elvis Marecos 74′; Enzo Prono 35′

Guaraní put in a tremendous second half shift to turn the game around against high-flying Sol de América and end their four game winning streak. It was a historic event at Dos Bocas as the game was taken charge by Japanese officials who have been ‘borrowed’ by the APF in their committment to try and improve the standard of refereeing.

The home side settled better with more possession and both strikers went close, Carlos Hidalgo’s free kick went just over after nine minutes and a couple of minutes later Dante López hit a scorching shot from 25 yards tipped over for a corner. Despite Guaraní’s ascendency Sol were always a threat on the break and especially down their left-hand side where José Ortigoza was peeling off into the space left by attacking full back Eduardo Filippini. Perfect evidence of this was the exchange of goal threats after 25 minutes, firstly Filippini combined down the right with Hidalgo who found López in the box. The number seven rounded Roberto Acosta but was unable to finish from a tight angle. The visitor’s broke immediately and a clever turn by Enzo Prono lost his marker on the right, he spread the ball across to Ortigoza unmarked on the left and with Filippini nowhere he was able to play a pass to the overlapping David Mendieta who dragged his shot just wide.

That was a warning for the aborigen and ten minutes later they were made to pay the price as the league’s topscorers and form side took the lead through Prono. Mendieta did well to lift a pass over the defence and the onrushing Sergio Escalante showed strength and balance to turn the ball into the near post under pressure from a Guaraní defender. Prono had made a fantastic darting run to that area leaving his marker for dead and he tapped the ball in to net his eighth of the season, a fantastic return for this intelligent youngster.

The second half was a different story, Guaraní continued to dominate possession but were far more incisive and had equalised after six minutes of intensive pressure. Nelson Romero had threaded a great pass into Iván Gonzalez Ferreira but a last ditch tackle forced the ball out for a corner kick. From the resulting set piece Gonzalez Ferreira got his reward, a half-clearance found him on the edge of the box and from a difficult angle he managed to turn and shoot, surprising Acosta with the force of the shot.

Elvis Marecos grabbed the winner – Photo: D10.com.py

The aurinegro kept pushing fora  winner, López stung Acosta’s hands with a fierce shot from distance, Marcelo Palau had a long shot saved too and forced a great stop from a header. So it was no great surprise when the Danzarín fell behind to Elvis Mareco’s thumping header from a corner with a quarter of an hour left. Sol had a late effort that nearly brought the equaliser, substitute Lorenzo Frutos saw his header tipped over by Aurrocochea. Ultimately Guaraní were good value for their win.

Guaraní XI: Pablo Aurrecochea, Eduardo Filippini, Luis Cabral, Elvis Marecos, Edgar Aranda, Nelson Romero, Marcelo Palau, Aguilar, Iván Gonzalez Ferreira, Dante Lopez, Carlos Hidalgo

Subs: Luis de la Cruz for Carlos Hidalgo, Pedro Chavez for Nelson Romero, Blas Caceres for Iván Gonzalez Ferreira

Sol de América XI: Roberto Acosta; Roberto Bonet, Martínez, Bruno Valdez, Diego Ciz; Sergio Escalante, Angel Enciso, Edgar Orzusa, David Mendieta, José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono

Subs: Lorenzo Frutos for Enzo Prono, Wili Mendieta for Roberto Bonet, Diego Vazquez for Angel Encisco

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Libertad vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-1 – Gustavo Mencia 5′, Rodolfo Gamarra 89′; Jonathan Fabbro 76′

Libertad dealt a huge blow to Cerro Porteño’s title hopes with a last minute winner from substitute Rodolfo Gamarra who notched up his third of the season. The victory also keeps Libertad in with a sniff of the title, although seven points behind with four games left to play means they need Olimpia to go into meltdown if they are to have a chance. For Cerro’s Julio Dos Santos it was a disappointing result on his 250th appearance for the club.

Gamarra’s ambush marketing – Photo: abc.com.py

Libertad struck early on just as they had during the week against Olimpia  with substitute goalkeeper Pablo Gavilán beaten to the ball by Gustavo Mencia as Cerro’s defence were statuesque not due to their own failings but the excellent delivery of Victor Ayala who is almost unplayable from set pieces in the final third. Gavilan was suspect again when he failed to claim several crosses, unsure of his positioning and the azulgrana defence had to fall back to try and clear their lines. One such mistake resulted in the ball falling to Ayala just outside the box, he rattled the crossbar with a stunning effort.

Cerro were by no means second best though, they looked to fashion chances and improved after 20 minutes when Fossati instructed them to play with four at the back instead of a back three and wing backs. Roberto Nanni is always a threat in the air and his header whistled wide of the post, the Argentine striker then tested the goalkeeper on 37 minutes with a clever shot on the turn. Jonathan Fabbro was looking motivated but was unable to find an inch of space as Jonathan Santana closed him in midfield or left him to the centre back Cristian Nasuti who pressured Fabbro when he picked up a position in between defence and midfield. There was no doubt that if he did find any room to work in then Libertad would be in trouble, about five minutes before the break Nasuti was out of position and Fabbro nearly punished the Guma, his long shot crashing off the woodwork. Luis Caceres couldn’t score with the follow up as Rodrigo Muñoz reacted well in goal.

Santana was better than Oviedo in midfield – Photo: D10.com.py

In the second half the rain intensified in Sajonia but it didn’t ruin the spectacle as both sides had chances in a fantastic forty-five minutes of football. José Ariel Nuñez, who has concreted his place as Libertad’s best forward player, should have made it two-nil after 47 minutes, beating the offside trap only to see his side-footed shot saved by the outstretched leg of Gavilan. On the hour Fossati transformed his left-hand side, taking off the two Benitez’s (César and Edgar) replacing them with Mingo Salcedo and Juan Manuel Lucero both recovering from long-term injury. The emphasis now was on getting balls into the box, Nanni nearly equalised after 66 minutes when he challenged Muñoz and who dropped the ball under pressure but he couldn’t get the definitive touch. Cerro then escaped a penalty shout, Cáceres clearly blocked a cross with his arm but Libertad’s appeals were waved away.

Cerro suffer in the rain – Photo: D10.com.py

A controversial finish was on the cards when Jonathan Fabbro equalised, a simply wonderful freekick with the outside of his foot full of power and swerve that left Muñoz with no chance. 17-year-old Maurito Caballero, heavily linked with Inter Milan, was thrown on to try and find a winner and his header was well saved by Gavilan. Straight up the other end Santiago Salcedo could have secured three points for Cerro Porteño hitting the bar in a frantic finale. Then after 89 minutes Caballero had an even better chance, Rodolfo Gamarra rolled the ball into his path in the box but he was denied again by Gavilan. Gamarra, however was on hand to turn the ball in and celebrated in the rain in unusual fashion. If that wasn’t enough for one half of football, Nanni should have equalised with a header that was somehow clawed out by Muñoz’s left arm, a tremendous save and a brilliant finish to an excellent game of football.

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Joe Bizera, Gustavo Mencia; Víctor Ayala, Jonathan Santana, Sergio Aquino, Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Maurtio Caballero for José Ariel Nuñez, Rodolfo Gamarra for Victor Ayala, Nestor Camacho for Luciano Civelli

Cerro XI: Pablo Gavilán; Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, Luis Cardozo; César Benítez,  Luis Cáceres; Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Jonathan Fabbro; Édgar Benítez,  Roberto Nanni

Subs: Mingo Salcedo for César Benítez, Juan Manuel Lucero for Edgar Benítez, Santiago Salcedo for Pedro Benítez

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OFF THE BALL

Bad week for Arce family: After Chiqui Arce’s sacking on Monday his brother Juan has now left Rubio Ñu following yet another defeat, this time at home to Cerro de Franco. Rubio Ñu sit second from bottom in what has been a poor season

Cerro Sub20 flying flag: While there is no chance of a Paraguayan side winning the Copa Libertadores this year, the representatives in the U20s tournament, Cerro Porteño, got off to a great start on Saturday beating local side Sporting Cristal 3-1 in Lima. The Cicloncitos trailed at halftime but launched a stirring second half comeback with goals from Oscar Romero, a César Serna penalty and Epifanio Garcia’s late strike. Could Cerro end up winning the Copa Libertadores in their centenary?!

The Cerro U20s before the game with Cristal – Photo: Pasión Azulgrana

Team of the Week: Carlos Servín (Tacuary); Gustavo Gimenez (Tacuary), Cristian Nasuti (Libertad), Elvis Marecos (Guaraní), Gregor Aguayo (Tacuary); Gustavo Cristaldo (Nacional), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño), Iván Gonzalez Ferreira (Guaraní); Rogerio Leichtweis (Cerro de Franco), Ariel Bogado (Nacional)

Player of the Week: Iván Gonzalez Ferreira of Guaraní is a left-footer playing on the right wing, he posed a constant threat to Sol de América and gave them the attacking threat from midfield usually attributed to Dario Ocampo (currently injured). His goal was fully deserved and was an excellent strike.

Donkey of the Week: Martin Silva made himself look a bit silly when he rushed over to the referee to breate him for blowing for full time 10 seconds early. Seeing that Olimpia had failed to score in the previous 5,570 seconds I doubt those extra ten would have been the difference.

Goal of the Week: Jonathan Fabbro’s freekick just edges out Iván Gonzalez Ferreira’s effort

ALL THE GOALS HERE

TABLE

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

Week 19 Fixtures: Olimpia vs Guaraní, Cerro de Franco vs Nacional, Independiente vs Rubio Ñu, Luque vs Sol de América, Carapeguá vs Libertad vs , Cerro vs Tacuary,

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