Week 17 Wrap: Nacional win number five, Cerro Porteño score five as title race hots up

What a difference a  month makes, towards the end of October this blog was extolling the virtues of the ‘black and yellow machine’ as Guaraní came from behind to win (for the second time this season) against Cerro Porteño. That same weekend Nacional lost to Libertad in a game that was seen as important for the Libertad/Olimpia Copa Libertadores race, the Academia losing wasn’t really considered as important.

Five games later and Guaraní have forgotten what it is like to win (or score for that matter with just one goal in 390 minutes of football) while Nacional have come good at the right time, a quintuple of victories including back-to-back wins over their direct rivals Guaraní and on Saturday Olimpia. Gustavo Moringio’s side are now top of the league by two points and the 35-year-old is on course to win a title in his first year of management having previously won four Primera trophies as a player (including the 2009 Clausura and 2011 Aperturas with Nacional).

Nacional fans were few yet vociferous – Photo: D10.com.py

Against Olimpia they were excellent, blowing El Decano away with two goals in a 15 minute spell with the visitor’s unaccustomed to the small confines of the Arsenio Erico stadium and the sparse yet hostile crowd. With just 2 minutes on the clock Cesar Cáceres Cañete netted his 90th goal in domestic football, the veteran with a cute left-foot finish. Marcos Melgarejo headed in a second after another move that had seen Rodrigo Teixeira lift the ball over Martin Silva in the Olimpia goal. Even after Juan Manuel Salgueiro pulled one back, a stunning free kick, the side from Barrio Obrero didn’t get the jitters. Once the away side lost Richard Ortiz to a red card midway through the second half the result wasn’t in doubt, Teixeira and Carlos Ruiz Peralta put gloss on the scoreline with two more goals in a 4-1 rout.

That result came the day after Guaraní had been beaten by a slowly improving Tacuary side led by the very technically-gifted Nicolas Martinez who registered a late goal in the 2-0 win to join Guaraní’s own Diego Centurión at the top of the scoring charts. The away team had dominated possession for long periods of the game but missed the presence of Dante López up front with Carlos Hidalgo unable to unbalance the defence with the intelligent runs we often see the Paraguayan make. Admittedly the first goal was desperately unlucky as  Pablo Espinoza’s shot cannoned off Elvis Marecos to wrong foot Aurrecochea and open the scoring.

Guaraní were defeated by Tacuary – Photo: D10.com.py

Sunday’s solitary game was the battle of the Cerro Porteños as Cerro Porteño played their namesakes in Presidente Franco, the first visit by the azulgrana from Asunción since 1994. A bumper crowd (over 3,000 fans raising gate receipts of 12o miliion guaranies or 25,000 dollars) were treated to five goals as the visitor’s ran riot. Roberto Nanni was excellent once again and scored twice, the first a towering header between two defenders. Jonathan Fabbro provided the cross for that goal and scored one of his own in another magisterial performance. The last goal of the game was from Angel Romero, the 20 year old’s third goal in senior football a vicious shot towards the near post that was too good for Cerro de Franco’s goalkeeper.

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In other results it was a case of fourth time lucky for Libertad who beat Carapeguá 2-1, their first ever win against El Potro in their fourth meeting. Luque gave their home fans a win through Guido di Vanni’s strike as Sol de América wave goodbye to any hopes of a Copa Sudamericana place. Finally two goalkeeping errors from Independiente’s Roque Cardozo were cancelled out by Aldo Vera who grabbed a brace in their 2-2 draw with Rubio Ñu

ALL THE GOALS

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By Ralph Hannah

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