A disappointing week for Paraguayan sides in the Copa Sudamericana, no wins despite two home ties and the probability of all three clubs reaching the last 16 is highly unlikely. Here are a few thoughts on the games and the chances of progression to the next round.
Olimpia vs Emelec
(0-1) 0-1 – Nasuti
Olimpia will be concerned about losing at home, they will be annoyed that an ex-Libertad scored the winner but the most worrying problem for the Clausura 2011 winners is that they are directionless both on and off the pitch. The first half saw the home side constantly lose possession and when they did enter the attacking third they were bereft of ideas. Their attacking potency improved in the second half with the introduction of Juan Manuel Salgueiro and the full backs given license to go past the halfway line but even then Olimpia were unable to find an equaliser.
Gregorio Perez’s decision to start with Alejandro Silva in midfield and drop Salguiero, Fredy Bareiro and Arnaldo Castorino (the latter two replaced by the clearly out of shape Nestor Bareiro and short of match practice Maxi Biancucchi) was a bad one. It seems Perez doesn’t know what his best team is yet and at the moment his pragmatism is manifesting into confusion on the field of play.
Man of the Match: Mondaini (Emelec) – Olimpia just couldn’t stop him without resorting to a foul, one that eventually brought the goal
Chances of progression: Slim, Emelec will be strong at home and with the pace of players like Mondaini and Enner Valencia they can happily pick off Olimpia on the break in the 2nd leg
Potential next round opponent: Universidad de Chile (Chile)
Mineros de Guayana vs Cerro Porteño
(0-1) 2-2 – Rojas, Guerra; Fabbro, Dos Santos
For only the fourth time in 18 games Cerro Porteño scored first and failed to win, there were of course extenuating circumstances. It was a routine first hour for Cerro with the away side two goals up and playing very well then on the hour Mineros’ best player Alejandro Guerra was brought down by goalkeeper Diego Barreto. The ensuing penalty and red card changed the game although replays showed that Guerra received the ball in an offisde position.
Cerro can be pleased with how the 11 men played, Jonathan Fabbro and Julio Dos Santos found themselves in space consistently during that first 60 minutes and created plenty of chances. It was those two who were rewarded with goals, Fabbro another sublime freekick while Dos Santos’ emphatic finish came after a patient build-up and Rodrigo López’s header that struck the post only to rebound to the midfielder. Mineros looked good when they got the ball to Guerra so it was fitting that he made his mark on the game, if the Venezuelans are to progress they will need the man who now has three goals in the competition to be on song.
Man of the Match: Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño) – Undoubtedly one of the best player’s on the continent in terms of current form
Chances of progression: High, Cerro should have no problem beating Mineros in front of their home crowd and with 11 men on the pitch
Potential next round opponent: Colón de Santa Fe (Argentina)
Guaraní vs Millonarios
(0-1) 2-4 – Hidalgo, De la Cruz; Cosme (2), Renteria, Robayo
A mental match that had everything, six goals, a penalty miss, a red card and a vintage display from veteran Mayer Candelo who set up three of the four goals for the away team. The first half was hardly an indicator of what was to come, Guaraní wasted some good chances and found themselves a goal down at the break after Candelo had too much time to pick his pass to Wilberto Cosme who put the visitors ahead. In many respects this was similar to the game against Oriente Petrolero.
Everything changed in the second period in a crazy seven minute spell, Wason Renteria used his strength to double Millonarios’ lead and then Diego Centurión spurned a golden chance for the Paraguayans blazing his penalty kick over the bar. Two minutes later and it was 3-0 as Cosme scored his second of the game as the aborigen couldn’t get the ball off him. Credit to coach Diego Alonso who realised there was no point standing for damage limitation – off came a midfielder for a striker as Guaraní knew they had to score to have a chance. They got the goal from Carlos Hidalgo vía a corner and then Cosme found himself heading to an early bath for a straight red having led with the arm in an aerial challenge with Marcelo Palau. Even with ten men the Colombians managed to score, Rafael Robayo with a cheeky goal on 86 minutes. It didn’t end there, substitutes Dante López and Luis de la Cruz combined for a second goal, the latter scoring after the former had hit the post.
Man of the Match: Mayer Candelo (Millonarios) – Aided by having two effective strikers in front of him, the 35-year-old’s incisive passing was critical
Chances of progression: Slim to none, Millonarios will be capable of scoring in Bogotá meaning Guaraní need four goals of their own
Potential next round opponent: Palmeiras (Brazil)
By Ralph Hannah