APOEL rally to clinch 6th consecutive title
CYPRIOT 1st DIV.: CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS (MATCHDAY 10)
|APOEL||2 - 1||Anorthosis|
APOEL locked up their 6th straight Cypriot championship with a dramatic, come from behind, 2:1 win at home to Anorthosis.
APOEL hosted Anorthosis at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, knowing that a win could render the following day’s action irrelevant and cement APOEL as Cypriot champions.
The reigning champions started strong having the majority of the ball possession, however they did not threaten their opponents in the early going. Then, Anorthosis shocked the fans at the GSP Stadium in the 25th minute with a goal by Miguel Palanca. The Spanish winger’s incredible shot left no chance for APOEL goalkeeper, Nauzet Perez, as he gave his side the lead.
APOEL looked to answer and in the 35th minute, Ariel Harush had to take off to save Lucas Souza’s header. Seconds later, in an effort to clear a corner kick for APOEL Andraz Struna’s header hit the post behind Ariel Harush and stayed out. Mickael Pote thought he had equalized in the 40th minute, but his shot went just over the crossbar and two minutes later, Roland Sallai sent the ball into the heart of the Anorthosis defense, but Harush cleared Pote’s header for a corner.
From Lorenzo Ebecilio’s ensuing corner, Emilio Nsue came as the trailer to head the ball into Harush’s net for the equalizer, setting APOEL’s stands on fire. The goal came at a critical moment in the game and the teams went into halftime tied at 1:1.
APOEL came into the second half knowing that only a win could seal the championship and Nsue lost the first chance in the 53rd minute with a strong, far shot which went wide. Five minutes later, a similar shot, this time from Giorgos Merkis, went just over the crossbar as APOEL continued to look for the go-ahead goal.
However, Anorthosis was the team that created the biggest opportunity in the half when Joao Victor’s header hit the crossbar behind Perez in the 74th minute, and with a second effort, the APOEL goalkeeper cleared the ball to safety with his legs. With time running out, the home side put more pressure and Harush denied twice shots from Sallai to keep the scores tied.
The breakthrough finally came in the 88th minute as Guilherme Dellatorre set up Pote in front of an open net, with the APOEL hero making no mistake from close range to assure the championship in APOEL’s hands for a sixth consecutive year!
With the end of the game signaling APOEL as champions, CFA President, Giorgos Koumas, awarded the championship trophy to the Galazokitrini as the players celebrated another title with their fans. With this title, APOEL reached 27 championships in club history, the most out any other Cypriot club. After the ceremony, thousands of fans celebrated in the famous “exosti” of the club’s building till the early morning hours.