Historic Win for AEK Larnaca, Bitter Elimination for Apollon

- Historic Win for AEK Larnaca, Bitter Elimination for Apollon -

AEK Larnaca provided one of the biggest surprises of the day, defeating Spartak Moskva 0-1 (89th minute goal) in Russia to progress to the Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round! Apollon Limassol was eliminated in extra time (match ended 3-3) after defeating Grasshoppers 2-1 in normal regulation.



Spartak Moskva 0 - 1 AEK Larnaca
(1 - 2)
Trichowski 89'

AEK Larnaca were the clear outsiders against Russian giants Spartak Moskva after the first leg ended 1-1 in Cyprus. The hosts were the better side throughout the match missing fantastic opportunities to score in both halves. AEK’s goalkeeper, Mino, denied Spartak on many occasions as he held his team in the game. With the score at 0-0, it seemed that Spartak would advance on away goals. However,  the Cypriots shocked the home side in the 89th minute. A great run from behind the defense set up Trichowski in on goal and he made no mistake to give AEK the suprising 0-1 lead. The late goal was enough to see AEK Larnaca past Spartak Moskva to advance to the UEFA Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round!

AEK Larnaca began in the first qualifying round eliminating Folgore, Cliftonville, and now Spartak Moskva on route for the Group Stage. They will be unseeded in tomorrow’s draw where they will find out their next opponent.



Apollon Limassol 3 - 3 (AET) Grasshopper
Vinicius 73'
Papoulis 87'
Gneki 101'
(4 - 5)
Anderson 77'
Caio 103'
Gjorgjev 120'

Apollon had high hopes of progressing to the Europa League Playoff Round after scoring an away goal in their 2-1 defeat in the first leg. Grasshopper wasted tremendous opportunities in the first half to pull ahead, including two headers that were denied by the crossbar. In the 69th minute Apollon’s goal was wrongfully called back for offsides, however three minutes later the breakthrough came for the hosts through Vinicius header from a corner. The 1-0 lead was enough for Apollon to progress on away goals but Grasshopper quickly equalized in 77th minute. A late goal from Papoulis gave Apollon a life-line, sending the game to extra time.

The Cypriots had the confidence in the first period of extra time and Gneki, who scored in the first leg, gave Apollon the 3-2 lead on aggregate (3-1 on the night). Two minutes later, the Swiss club quickly scored their second away goal of the night to silence the home support. Apollon pressed on for the go ahead goal on aggregate, missing great chances for a late “winner.” With the hosts pushed forward, Grasshopper sealed their place in the next round with a third goal in the final minute of extra time.

Apollon will bow out of this year’s Europa League and will now focus on the Cypriot First Division. They will see today’s match as a wasted opportunity to progress, especially after giving up the go-ahead lead on TWO occasions.


Image Source: balla.gr
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