The Athletico Paranaense beat this Wednesday by 2-0 to Freedomwhich he reached in the leadership of Group B of the Libertadores Cupwith which all the definitions of this phase were postponed for the last day, since the four rivals were left with options to advance.
After a first half in which they totally dominated but failed to score, the team from the Brazilian city of Curitiba prevailed with goals in the second half from Argentinean Tomás Cuello, his first goal in eleven games with Paranaense, and from Uruguayan Agustín Canobbio, his first in ten games.
With the result, Paranaense rose to second place in the group classification, with 7 points, the same as the Paraguayan team but with a worse goal difference, while The Strongest from Bolivia and Caracas from Venezuela share third place, with 6 points. , just one of the leaders.
The two qualified for the round of 16 of the Libertadores, the club that will advance to the next phase in the Copa Sudamericana and the only one eliminated from the group, for the same reason, will be defined on the last day, next Wednesday, when Libertad will host The Strongest and Paranaense to Caracas.
A relief for the ‘rookie’ Scolari
The result is a relief for the new coach of the Brazilian team, Luiz Felipe Scolari, who took over two weeks ago after the team from Curitiba lost 5-0 on their visit to The Strongest, and had not yet shown good results.
The defeat, for its part, put an end to Libertad’s series of three victories in its last matches and that allow it to lead the Paraguayan Championship with a six-point advantage over Cerro Porteño, its immediate pursuer.
Paranaense, with a powerful offensive quartet and on their synthetic floor pitch at the Arena da Baixada stadium, started pressing from the first minute and in the attacks, Neck, Brazilian striker Pablo and Uruguayan midfielder David Terans constantly took turns in attack.
But despite constantly pressing, the Brazilian team showed difficulties in reaching dangerously and overloaded Neck, who received all the balls and who ended up finishing a few times, but without aim.
Paranaense was the clear dominator in the first half, but without being able to generate danger and unable to overcome Libertad’s defensive barrier, they limited themselves to rolling the ball without reaching the goal defended by Martín Silva.
His clearest chance came in the 44th minute, when Cuello sent a ball into the area, Martín Silva went wrong and Pablo was blocked when he was about to open the scoring. The Curitiba team kept up their pressure from the start of the second half, but with Canobbio and Terans understanding each other better and creating more dangerous opportunities.
But when Libertad tried to react and surprise with counterattacks, which allowed him to arrive dangerously twice, Neck opened the scoring for Paranaense 10 minutes into the second half with a shot from outside the area that ended up fooling Silva.
Visiting changes that did not help
Libertad coach Daniel Garnero immediately made three changes to make his team more dangerous, with the entry of Merlini, Caballero, Mendieta and Roque Santa Cruz. And again when the Paraguayan team tried to react, Canobbio increased the score for the locals to 2-0 at 23 minutes in a counterattack initiated by Terans and in which he received inside the area and shot at Silva’s exit.
With the partial advantage and in the middle of a disputed game that seemed to get out of the hands of the referee, who showed seven yellow cards, Scolari opted to administer the result and, with ten minutes to go, sent Terans to the showers and reinforced the marking with the steering wheel Erick.
The strategy paid off and Paranaense neutralized all of Libertad’s reaction attempts and guaranteed a win that left them with good chances of qualifying for the round of 16.