Goals from Fabbro & Salcedo completed a marvellous resurgence from the Asuncion giants while Barcelona were crowned champions of the Ecuador Primera Fase in a weekend to remember
Newly-crowned Apertura champions Universidad de Chile were excused from duty as the Chilean season restarted at the weekend, leaving Colo Colo to make the headlines with a opening-day win. The Cacique marked the first game of new coach Omar Labruna, son of former River Plate maquina idol Angel, with a 1-0 victory over Municipal Iquique, Carlos Munoz netting the only goal of the game.
Elsewhere, fellow Santiago giants Universidad Catolica suffered a disappointing start to the Clausura. The Cruzado went down at home to Palestino; the most entertaining action, meanwhile, could be found at Santa Laura as Union Espanola and Audax Italiano fought out a 3-3 draw.
The final of the Colombian Apertura will be played between Santa Fe and Pasto, who prepare for the showpiece clash despite both failing to win in the last round of the play-off stage. Already qualified for the final, Santa Fe played with reserves against Chico FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw, Oscar Rodas and a Pedro Pino own goal ensuring a point for the Bogota giants. Santa Fe finished the semi-finals unbeaten and six points clear of nearest challengers La Equidad, who downed Itagui 2-1 in their last match.
Pasto had also assured their place at the top of Group A, and a team composed of youngsters fell 3-0 to Deportivo Cali who finished level with the newly-promoted side. Felix Micolta, Brayan Perea and Diego Peralta were on target for the home team, who finish second by virtue of ending the regular season in a lower position than Pasto.
The first leg of the final will be played on Wednesday, with the decider scheduled for Sunday.
Barcelona are celebrating the capture of the Primera Fase by the slimmest of margins, guaranteeing them a place in the Serie A final at the end of 2012 and the chance to win their first title since 1997. The Guayaquil outfit went down to Deportivo Cuenca, but triumphed on goal difference over Liga de Loja when their rivals could only draw against Independiente Jose Teran on the final day. Either team could have overtaken Barca with victory, but the 0-0 draw ensured the first half of the season belongs to the Canarios.
Cerro Porteno completed a miraculous comeback to claim their first title since 2009, defeating Olimpia 2-1 to pip their arch-rivals to the 2012 Apertura. The Ciclon marked their centenary year with the championship, goals from Santiago Salcedo and Jonathan Fabbro meaning Cerro took the three points which took them two clear of Olimpia at the summit.
The victory is made even more impressive by the Asuncion side's brilliant finish to the season, after Olimpia appeared to have the Apertura in their grasp. Cerro trailed by four points in the last week of the season, but two straight victories coupled with defeats for the Decano saw Olimpia lose their grip on the top of the table and miss out on the title.