Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(0-1) 1-2 – Arnaldo Castorino; Santiago Salcedo (pen), Jonathan Fabbro
Cerro Porteño managed by Uruguayan Jorge Fossati have come out on top in a thrilling Apertura season thanks to a final day superclásico victory over their arch-rivals and fellow title challengers Olimpia. The result sees the azulgrana pick up their 29th domestic title while denying Olimpia consecutive league championships. The victory has added significance because 2012 is Cerro’s centenary year and they were desperate to ensure silverware for the fans, this also represents Juan José Zapag’s first trophy since assuming the presidency of the club.
The superclásico showdown got off to a terrible start for the team from Barrio Obrero when left wingback Walter López was sent off after just eight minutes for an alleged elbow as he rose for a challenge with stirker Luis Nery Caballero. However, referee Carlos Amarilla decided to even things up ten minutes later with a bizarre decision, showing Renzo Reveredo the red card for what Amarilla judged was a studs up challenge – in reality it was a miskick and he had inadvertently clashed with his opponent.
In a tight first half it seemed that Olimpia were settling better to the 10 vs 10 contest than their opponents but with so much offensive quality there was always the danger that Cerro Porteño could hit on the counter and after 35 minutes Edgar ‘Pajaro’ Benítez and Jonathan Fabbro combined to devastating effect as Benítez got ahead of his defender Francisco Nájera and the Colombian committed a foul inside the penalty area. Veteran striker Santiago Salcedo, who had scored three times previously in clásicos, stepped up and converted the high-pressure penalty putting the ball into the side netting to the right of Martin Silva who had guessed the right way.
With Cerro Porteño ahead at halftime Olimpia’s Gerardo Pelusso had to make a substitution and decided to bring on striker Pablo Zeballos, surprisingly dropped for this match, in place of the hapless Nájera who had been tormented by Pajaro. It was a dangerous move as it gave El Ciclón more space to work in and Fabbro especially was using the room to find Pajaro at every opportunity. Olimpia made a second switch with Carlos Humberto Paredes on and he scored immediatley only for it to be ruled offside, not Paredes but Maxi Biancucchi who was blocking the goalkeeper’s view. Replays showed that the header took a deflection of a Cerro defender’s hand but the flag had already been raised. Then Cerro had their chance to double the lead, the Pajaro-Fabbro partnership profiting again with the former crashing a left-footed volley onto the crossbar. It proved to be a sign of things to come as just moments later Santiago Salcedo tricked Aranda into giving away a free kick on the edge of the box. Jonathan Fabbro stepped up and curled the dead ball past a static Silva, a moment of magic to surely seal the superclásico.
Moments later, Aranda picked up another yellow card for fouling Pajaro Benítez and he was off – Olimpia’s hopes seemed to be over. But Olimpia under Pelusso is made of stern stuff and he threw on Arnaldo Castorino to try and find a goal and for the second game running he delivered, latching onto a beautiful pass by Paredes to grab a consolation. Olimpia threw balls into the box and were caught on the break time and again in a frantic final twenty minutes but there were to be no more marks on the scoresheet as El Ciclón held on for a 2-1 win and a well-deserved championship.
There is no doubt Cerro were much the better side in the second-half of the Apertura season, they won 9 of the 11 games to overturn a seven-point deficit and towards the end of the campaign were playing their best football while Olimpia began to lose steam.
Olimpia XI: Martin Silva; Francisco Nájera, Julio César Cáceres, Salustiano Candia; Renzo Reveredo, Sebastián Ariosa; Miguel Amado, Richard Ortiz, Eduardo Aranda; Luis Nery Caballero, Maxi Biancucchi
Subs: Pablo Zeballos for Francisco Nájera, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Miguel Amado, Arnaldo Castorino for Maxi Biancucchi
Sent Off: Renzo Reveredo, Eduardo Aranda
Cerro Porteño XI: Diego Barreto; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Jorge Rojas, Walter López; Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Jonathan Fabbro; Edgar Benítez, Santiago Salcedo
Subs: Alexis Gonzalez for Jonathan Fabbro, José Domingo Salcedo for Jorge Rojas, Alejandro da Silva for Edgar Benítez
Sent Off: Walter López
By Ralph Hannah