Cerro Porteño vs Olimpia
Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
(2-0) 2-1 – Guillermo Beltrán, Angel Romero; Diego Centurión
In the 279th league meeting between Paraguay’s two biggest sides it was Chiqui Arce’s Cerro Porteño who came out on top, an excellent first half display earning his first clásico win as a manager and the azulgrana´s 100th in the league. Ever Almeida will be disappointed with his team selection that backfired as the Romero twins constantly ran at his slow defence to devastating effect. The game was played in persistent rain and freezing temperatures that affected the crowd, just 18,795 people attended compared to 27,358 in 2012 and 26,196 in 2011.
Angel Romero was a real thorn in their side, winning fouls all over the final third and at no point was any defender comfortable facing him but it was his twin brother that brought about the first goal. A vicious left-footed strike from Oscar Romero in the driving rain through several bodies was well saved by Martin Silva who got his legs in the way, but the rebound fell straight to in-form Guillermo Beltrán who scored his 10th goal for Cerro, his first in the clásico.
On 25 minutes Carlos Humberto Paredes was taken off to be replaced by Dante López but the three central midfielders of Olimpia were suffering against the combination of Fidencio Oviedo and Julio Dos Santos who always looked comfortable and always had options, usually Mathias Corujo on the right-hand side. The Uruguayan had a wonderful game and on 43 minutes combined well with his full back, Carlos Bonet, to cross for Angel Romero. The youngster is a predator in the box and sniffed blood when he saw his marker wrong-footed – he raced towards the cross bringing it down perfectly with his first touch and smashing in with his second to give El Ciclón breathing space.
Almeida got it wrong from the start but he is an excellent coach, at halftime he made a double change taking off the creative players Alejandro Silva and Juan Manuel Salgueiro replacing them with the physical presence of Diego Centurión and the experience of Sergio Orteman. It worked, Orteman showed discipline and Cerro weren’t able to dominate central midfield. Centurión was a pest winning freekicks in the channels particularly on the left and by pulling off to that side he stemmed Bonet’s forays forward.
After 57 minutes Centurión pulled a goal back, his fourth against Cerro Porteño since 2012 (he scored three times for Guaraní against them last year) and on first glance he looked offside but replays show that Corujo was slow coming out, the Uruguayan´s only mistake all day. The pass over the top was from Wilson Pittoni who is so dangerous with any time on the ball in the final third – with Fernandez coming out of goal to close the angle Diego Centurión had to react quickly and rather than controlling the ball he flicked the ball into the net with the outside of his boot.
Despite an improved second half there wasn’t to be a second goal, in fact Cerro haven’t conceded two in a game this season so it was always going to be a tough ask for El Decano. Arce looked delighted with the win, it gives him some much-needed credit with the fans but more importantly it takes Cerro four points clear at the top of the table and all the pressure is now on Libertad who will try and juggle the Copa Sudamericana with a title challenge.
By Ralph Hannah