APOEL rally to take top spot over Apollon
CYPRIOT 1st DIV.: CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS (MATCHDAY 8)
|APOEL||2 - 1||Apollon Limassol|
|de Camargo 21',62'||Maglica 10'|
APOEL put on their champion suit and with a 2:1 home win over Apollon at the GSP Stadium, returned to the top of the table two weeks before the finish line.
The visitors came into Nicosia as the league leaders and it took them just ten minutes to draw first blood. Emilio Zelaya put the ball down for Anton Maglica inside APOEL’s penalty area, with the later sending a volley into the back of the net, leaving Nauzet Perez unable to deny the strike. The defending champions, however, did not back down and Igor De Camargo made things even, as he dribbled between two defenders to send the ball in Bruno Vale’s net in the 20th minute.
Four minutes later, APOEL came close to another goal as the “galazokitrinoi” exchanged the ball beautifully, but Roland Sallai’s effort hit the outer side of Vale’s net. On the half hour mark, Guilherme Dellatorre was in on goal all alone with Vale, but his shot was unable to trouble the Portuguese goalkeeper. Despite consistent pressure from the home side, the halftime score remained at 1:1.
With the beginning of the second half, APOEL picked up where they left off in the opening 45 minutes, controlling the pace of the game. In the 62nd minute, it was Dellatorre, who despite being under pressure, managed to provide the assist to De Camargo, who doubled his goals to give APOEL the 2:1 lead.
Dellatorre came close to scoring an insurance goal in the 80th minute, but he delayed his effort after receiving a ball from Sallai and his shot went just wide. After an Apollon corner kick in the 81st minute, APOEL were unable to convert from the counterattack to seal the victory with a third goal of the night and APOEL’s De Camargo saw his second yellow card of the night, leaving the hosts with 10-men to keep things interesting going into the final minutes of the match (De Camargo will also be suspended for the next game against AEL in Limassol).
Apollon looked to find the equalizer in stoppage time, but the home side defended well, with the visitors only effort coming from Valentin Roberge, whose shot went well over Perez’s post. The final whistle confirmed APOEL’s 2:1 win, which could be the most important win of the season.
The defending champions proved that they wanted the “title deciding” match more and now take a two point lead atop the standings with two games remaining. APOEL will face AEL away in Limassol and will host Anorthosis in Nicosia on the final matchday. Apollon, who will need to make up their two-point difference if they want to win this year’s crown, will host AEK Larnakas next week and will travel to Nicosia to play Omonoia on the final matchday.