Libertad vs Olimpia
Estadio Nicolas Leoz
(0-1) 0-1 – Luis Caballero ‘4
Olimpia strolled out on a hot Friday evening in limited edition shirts bearint 1902 across the chest to commemorate their founder, William Paats. While it certainly wasn’t a vintage game, Olimpia were the better side for long periods and, having been reduced to nine men by the end, deserved winners.
The game started in perfect fashion for the away side, Sergio Orteman was simply too strong for Luciano Civelli and Sergio Aquino, motoring past them in a breakaway before releasing Luis Nery Caballero with a perfectly weighted pass. The young Paraguayan striker used the outside of his right foot to bend the ball past Libertad’s goalkeeper, the first time he has ever scored in three consecutive games.
In a surprisingly open first half both sides had chances to score, Cristian Menendez saw his poked effort saved by Martin Silva after 8 minutes as the referee missed Civelli’s handball in the build up. Maxi Biancucchi had three great chances for Olimpia in the space of ten minutes, the first after the quarter-hour mark forced Rogerio Muñoz into a good save as Libertad were at sixes and sevens at the back, his shot from the right went wide and he went even closer with his left foot as the ball struck the upright and bounced out of harm’s way. Olimpia were better all over the pitch, Orteman was powerful and found space in midfield, in contrast to Aquino and Topo Caceres while El Decano defended well, epitomised by Francisco Nájera who won a crucial challenge against Civelli inside the box minutes before half time.
The heat was getting to the sides in the 2nd half, Enrique Meza and Nery Bareiro saw yellow for handbags at a corner and Topo was incensed as he received the same fate. In between that Silva lived up to his Superman pseudonym with a fantastic save from Menendez with his feet who had got in behind the defence. Libertad were starting to grow into it, Topo found himself in pockets of space on the right and Civelli had to score on 66 minutes, he was free in the box as he received Menendez’s cross but inexplicably the ex-Ipswich man shot wide with his favoured left foot.
The pressure was enough for Sebastian Ariosa to trip Rodolfo Gamarra just two minutes later and get his marching orders for a second yellow. Libertad brought the game to their opponents and young Fabio Caballero was lunged into a rash challenge on Topo, the referee showed a straight red which was totally out of context with the game but the foul fell into the “seen them given” drawer. With that Gerardo Pelusso took off his remaining striker, Luis Caballero, and set up in a 4-4-0 formation for the final 15 minutes. They conceded territory and possession but critically not a goal as the defenders, especially Enrique Meza, worked heroically to bail balls out of the box repeatedly.
Olimpia's special edition kit, Photo: golazotropical.com.py
After 87 minutes the aforementioned Meza drops down in box, seemingly hit by Menendez. The referee’s decision was bizarre. Having consulted his assistant he booked Silva for portesting and then booked Menendez for the punch which falls into the “he’s had a shocker” drawer. But it was to no avail, Olimpia held on and at the final whistle Gerardo Pelusso let out a huge scream of what was surely relief and a poignant moment, Olimpia were top of the league.
Olimpia XI: M.Silva; F.Nájera, E.Meza, S.Candia, S.Ariosa; E.Aranda, F.Caballero, S.Orteman, V.Marín; M.Biancucchi, L.Caballero
Subs: R.Reveredo for M.Biancucchi, O.Hobecker for V.Marín, C.Paredes for L.Caballero
Red Cards: S.Ariosa (2 Yellow Cards), F.Caballero (Dangerous challenge)
Libertad XI: R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, I.Benegas, N.Bareiro, M.Samudio; R.Gamarra, V.Caceres, S.Aquino, L.Civelli; C.Menendez, P.Velazquez
Subs: M.Caballero for L.Civelli, J.A.Nuñez for P.Velazquez, N.Camacho for M.Samudio
Guaraní vs Luque
Estadio Dos Bocas
(2-0) 3-1 – Marcelo Palau ‘2, Fabio Escobar (pen) ’24 ,Carlos Hidalgo (pen) 90+3′; Roberto Gamarra 61′
Marcelo Palau’s piledriver after two minutes was the dream start for this rejuvinated Guaraní side, the ever-impressive Dario Ocampo played a simple pass across goal on the edge of the box for Uruguayan who smashed the ball with the outside of his foot past Tobias Vargas. Fabio Escobar later won a penatly, Sergio Vergara adjudged to have pushed the striker inside the box, Escobar was on hand to convert from the spot.
Palau celebrates his goal, Photo: D10.com.py
In the second half, the Aborigen gave Luque a glimmer of hope when Juan
Pablo Raponi’s corner was headed in by substitute Toto Gamarra despite having been reduced to 10-men with left back Vergara receiving his second booking. Luque seemed to have received a confidence injection with the goal and began attacking with more purpose, Raponi especially a danger. The glimmer became a bright light when the otherwise impressive Palau had a rush of blood to the tongue, he was show the red card and the referee pointed to his lips and made a gesture to suggest it was something he had said that earned him his final yellow card. Luque went for it urged on by their voracious away support (who overstepped the line when they threw things onto the field of play in the direction of Elvis Marecos) but they were leaving gaps at the back.
Eventually the auriazul paid the price late on as the long ball was latched onto by Carlos Hidalgo, he tried to take the ball round Vargas but the goalkeeper brought him down. A straight red for Luque’s last man and with no substitutions remaining, a defender put on the gloves. Hidalgo had no trouble scoring his first Guaraní goal and sealing the victory.
Guaraní XI: J.Silva; T.Bartomeus, J.Manzur, L.Cabral, E.Marecos; P.Chavez, L.De la Cruz, M.Palau, D.Ocampo; F.Escobar, N.Romero
Subs: I.Gonzalez Ferreira for L.De la Cruz, D.Figueredo for P.Chavez, C.Hidalgo for F.Escobar
Red Card: M.Palau (2nd yellow for dissent)
Luque XI: T.Vargas; Y.Cano, R.Bogado, J.Aguilar, S.Vergara; E.Robles, J.Britez, J.Abente, J.P. Raponi; C.Caceres Cañete; G. Di Vanni
Subs: R.Gamarra for J.Britez, C.Martinez for C.Caceres Cañete, P.Gimenez for G.Di Vanni
Red Cards: Sergio Vergara (2 Yellow Cards), T.Vargas (denied goalscoring opportunity)
Nacional vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Felicano Caceres
(1-0) 2-0 – Ariel Bogado ’35, German Cano ’63
In the 2011 Clausura the defining game in Cerro’s title challenge was probably the 3-1 defeat to Nacional, that day Marcos Melgarejo tormented them and Cerro were left to rue a missed opportunity. It is too early in the season to say this loss affects their title aspirations but it is a massive confidence knock particularly as El Ciclón were playing so well previously.
Cano's strike sealed it for Nacional, Photo: abc.com.py
The goals came either side of half time, Ariel Bogado (in a rich vein of form) was the first to profit as a corner from the right evaded everybody and practically landed on his instep. In the second half substitute striker German Cano turned in Marcos Miers’ cross from the left hand side. The Barrio Obrero derby (played in Luque ironically) finished with ten bookings in what had been a scrappy affair, that suited Nacional more than their rivals and arguably the key player was defensive midfielder Marcos Riveros who stopped the supply to messrs Pajaro and SaSa up front.
Cerro Porteño XI: D.Barreto; M.Corujo, M.Uglessich, P.Benitez, W.López; J.Rojas, A.Gonzalez, F.Oviedo, J.Dos Santos; S.Salcedo, E.Benitez
Subs: R.Nanni for A.Gonzalez; L.Caceres for J.Dos Santos, G.Beltrán for M.Corujo
Nacional XI: G.Caffa; R.Mazacotte, R.Piris, D.Caniza, M.Miers; G.Noguera, J.Villarreal, M.Riveros, D.Orué; A.Bogado, R.Texeira
Subs: G.Cano for A.Bogado, C.Ruiz Peralta for G.Noguera; D.Mendoza for R.Texeira
Tacuary vs Sol de América
Estadio Roberto Bettega
(1-5) 2-6 – Jorge Ortega ’45+1, Raúl Román ’71; José Ortigoza 4′, 22′, 31′ & ’64, David Mendieta ’10 & ’15
Tacuary don’t try and score many but they pride themselves on being able to defend so when they concede four like they did last week against Guaraní you know something is going wrong. When they concede four after just 22 minutes then it is safe to say you are in ‘disaster’ territory.
Sol weren’t sublime but they were ruthlessly efficient as they plundered down Tacuary’s left-hand side in the early stages. José Ortigoza was first to profit, the cross from the right was cleared but rebounded off a Tacuary player and fell at his feet inside the box, only one result. After 10 minutes ‘Robinho’ Ocampo got down the right and slipped the ball across the face of goal to David Mendieta who turned the ball in from the six yard line, his first professional goal. Two soon became three and Mendieta had his second senior goal with a fantastic header from behind the penalty spot, it was Ocampo again (played onside by the hapless Braian Brizueña who you can read more about in OFF THE BALL) with the cross.
Sol celebrate Mendieta's goal, Photo: abc.com.py
In general Ortigoza is a mismatch for most Paraguayan league defences (expect to see him in Europe come June) and against this Tacuary back line he made hay, a short corner routine saw the ball flicked on and having sucked in the defender to keep him just onside Ortigoza headed home. On the half hour mark he had his hattrick, a routine ball over the top from David Mendieta was met by the Sol striker and bearing down on Carlos Servín he hit the ball through his legs on the half volley. Such was the ‘paliza’ that Sol were handing out that the referee cut Tacuary some slack, Ortigoza was perfectly onside as he muscled past Diego Viera to score his fourth and the Danzarín’s sixth only for the official to disallow the goal, citing a mythical foul in the build up. There was to be a sixth goal of the half but it went to the home team, Jorge Ortega (unfortunate to find himself in this side) picked up a good through ball from veteran Raúl Román and rounded the keeper to get a consolation.
In the second half the teams swapped goals, first Ortigoza got his fifth as Ocampo’s deflected cross found him unmarked (again!) at the back post and his shot crept in having brushed the defender on the way past. For Tacuary it was Raúl Román who scored the pick of the bunch in with a stunning strike that rebounded in off the crossbar. Sol could have had seven, substitute Enzo Prono dragged a chance wide in what was another day to forget for Tacuary.
Tacuary XI: C.Servín; G.Gimenez, L.Vera, D.Viera, M.Acostas Rojas, B.Brizueña; G.Vieira,P.Espinoza, M.Gimenez: R.Román; J.Ortega
Subs: E.Ortiz for B.Brizueña; D.Centurión for G.Vieira, S.Alvarenga for M.Gimenez
Sol XI: M.Santilli; R.Bonet, R.Martinez, D.Arruá, D.Ciz; R.Ocampo, E.Orzusa, A.Enciso, D.Mendieta; W.Mendieta, J.Ortigoza
Subs: S.Escalante for D.Mendieta, E.Prono for W.Mendieta, A.Rojas for R.Ocampo
OFF THE BALL
APF and Police get it wrong (again): Back in December I wrote an article for IBWM about violence in Paraguayan football and on Saturday night it reared its ugly head yet again. But the saddest part was not the damage done by marauding Luque hooligans (I refuse to call them fans) but that the Police refused to act (one eyewitness claims a policeman said they were too scared) and that the APF once again allowed a game involving Cerro Porteño to be held in Luque. With Luque playing in Asunción beforehand it was highly likely that they would return towards the end of the Cerro game. The long standing bad blood between the hooligan groups or barras is common knowledge and there was one report of a bus belong to Cerro fans being set on fire as the Chanchooligans (Luque’s Barra) waited for them. Another 40 cars of innocent families who had gone to watch the game were damaged and one woman reported her business had been destroyed by a tear gas canister thrown inside. The sensible decision would have been to stage this game on the Sunday or at the very least switch the kick off times so Luque’s fans were in the Guaraní ground while Cerro and Nacional fans came out of the Feliciano Caceres stadium.
Just one of the cars damaged by Luque hooligans, Photo: D10.com.py
Squad strength: Libertad fielded the following starting XI in their reserve game against Olimpia, not bad at all.
Bernardo Medina; Jorge Moreira, Pedro Sarabia, Cristian Nassuti, Gustavo Mencia; Marcos Melgarejo, Jonathan Santana,Victor Ayala, Nestor Camacho; José ArielNuñez,Mauro Caballero
Debut to forget: Poor Brahian Brizueña making a start at left back for Tacuary in what seems to be his professional debut, he lasted 17 minutes before being subbed off as all three goals had come down his side. Not that Tacuary got much better afterwards (see above).
Team of the Week: Martin Silva (Olimpia); Franciso Nájera (Olimpia), Enrique Meza (Olimpia), Julio Manzur (Guaraní), Marcos Miers (Nacional); Dario Ocampo (Guaraní), Marcos Riveros (Nacional), Sergio Orteman (Olimpia), Eduardo Echeverría (Carapeguá); José Ortigoza (Sol de América), Ariel Bogado (Nacional)
Goal of the Week: Marcelo Palau gets it again for this peach, the defensive midfielder could have been player of the week had he not got himself sent off for dissent.
Player of the Week: Apologies to José Ortigoza and Dario Ocampo who get on the podium but this goes to Enrique Meza of Olimpia, what a crucial role he had in keeping a cleansheet as he headed everything that came his way and never allowed Cristian Menendez the space he needed to turn and cause problems. So frustrated was Menendez that he gave the centre-back a forearm to the face late on. At the end of the game manager Gerardo Pelusso went off hugging the defender as he knew how important that performance was in such a tight match.
Olimpia's DT shows his appreciation to Enrique Meza, Photo: Olimpia.com.py
Donkey(s) of the Week: Luque hooligans, the APF and the Police (again) find themselves in the dock for not avoiding the avoidable.
Stat of the Week: 87 – Raúl Román is the active player with most goals scored in Paraguayan football (via @riquelmeandres)
ALL THE GOALS HERE
By Ralph Hannah