APOEL take advantage of Apollon’s slip up in Larnaca
CYPRIOT 1st DIV: CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS (MATCHDAY 4)
|APOEL||3 - 1||AEL Limassol|
|de Camargo 81',86'
|Dossa Junior 90'+1'
Everything is all square at the top of the table in the Cypriot First Division playoffs after a day where everything was in favor of APOEL. The Nicosia giants took a crucial 3:1 win at home over AEL Limassol while Apollon suffered a potentially disastrous 3:0 loss in Larnaca to AEK.
At the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, APOEL hosted AEL Limassol in Bruno Baltazar’s first match as APOEL manager. APOEL came out motivated, and generated a couple of early opportunities, one went wide, and a powerful strike from Dellatorre was saved by the sprawling AEL keeper Vozinha. AEL nearly stole a goal before the half when Christos Wheeler’s strike was knocked down by Nauzet Perez, but Perez was able to find the loose ball in time to cover it.
In the second half, a goal kick from AEL’s Vozinha sent Ismael Sassi in on goal, but an athletic save from Perez kept things level. With 15 minutes from time and the scores goalless, Vozinha turned away a point blank chance from APOEL’s Stathis Aloneftis to keep the scores level. The fury continued when AEL’s Sassi found himself alone with Perez again, after Giorgos Merkis misjudged a longball. Perez charged out of his box, and Sassi got a touch to get the ball over Perez, but Emilio Nsue hustled back and forced Sassi wide, who was unable to finish for the visitors.
The end to end action finally produced a goal in a jam-packed final 10 minutes of play as Mickael Pote led the rush and found Igor DeCamargo, and APOEL finally found the breakthrough in the 81st minute. Five minutes later, DeCamargo sent Roland Sallai on a breakaway, Vozinha made the save, but the AEL defense didn’t pick up DeCamargo and he scored on the rebound for an APOEL insurance goal. AEL did not give up, and a breakdown in the APOEL defense left them badly outnumbered and Dosa Junior fired a shot past Perez to put AEL on the board and back in the game. However, a penalty would be the final nail in the coffin, after DeCamargo went down just inside the box in stoppage time, and APOEL were awarded a penalty. Nuno Morais took the penalty and finished into the top corner, sending Vozinha the wrong way as the hosts marched on for a 3:1 victory.
|AEK Larnaca||3 - 0||Apollon Limassol|
APOEL received some much needed help with AEK Larnaca thumping Apollon 3:0 in Larnaca. The hosts had the jump from the start as an initial chance by Ivan Trickovski was saved by Bruno Vale, but the breakthrough wasn’t far off. In the 29th minute, a deflection set up Acoran who found himself all alone with Vale and slotted the shot home with a composed finish. Less than 10 minutes later, a cross from Apostolos Giannou found its way to Trickovski. Vale got a piece of the shot, but not enough to keep it from crossing the line, and as a result, the hosts took a 2:0 halftime lead.
In the second half, the visitors had a good chance from a free kick to get back into the game, but Joao Pedro’s effort sailed over the head of Juan Pablo and hit the crossbar. AEK would add one more through Giannou, and AEK took a fairly comfortable 3:0 home win.
After Saturday’s results, Apollon remain in first, but their lead is only on goal differential as of now. APOEL have made up the points difference with their win to sit level with the Limassol side and are now an even closer second. AEK are temporarily in third, pending what Anorthosis do on Sunday as they visit Omonoia while AEL remain firmly in fifth.