Apollon & APOEL keep the pace ahead of their clash
CYPRIOT 1st DIV: CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS (MATCHDAY 6)
|AEK Larnaca||1 - 3||APOEL|
||Morais (P) 11'
It is as you were in the Cyprus First Division Playoffs. APOEL kept the pressure on Apollon, but the current league leaders were able to match them setting up a possible title deciding clash in next weekend’s derby between the two teams.
APOEL traveled to Larnaca to visit AEK Larnaca in matchday 7 of the First Division playoffs. APOEL were determined from the start and a controversial call helped them get on the board early on. Just under 10 minutes in, a low cross from Praxitelis Vouros was knocked down by the hand of AEK defender Nelson, who was on the edge of the box however, he was ruled to be inside the box, and APOEL were awarded a penalty. APOEL Captain Nuno Morais took the penalty and hit the bottom left corner of the net, sending AEK keeper Juan Pablo the wrong way to give the visitors the advantage. The hosts nearly responded when a through ball sent Florian Taulemesse in on goal all alone, but APOEL keeper Nauzet Perez raced far out of his box and got his head on the ball, thwarting the entire play. Another chance fell to Taulemesse, but Perez was up to the task again with an acrobatic save. Taulemesse was then able to beat Perez with a chipped effort, however the ball was cleared off the line by a sliding Vouros. Amazingly, the half ended with APOEL still ahead 1:0.
In the second half, Pablo’s dazzling save kept out a free-kick effort from APOEL’s Roberto Lago however, the ensuing corner dropped into the box and Roland Sallai pounced on to the loose ball and buried it in the net to double APOEL’s lead. Around the hour mark, a bizarre play gave the hosts life. The ball was worked in front to Joan Tomas, the shot was partially blocked and deflected straight into the air, and touched down into the net past a confused Perez. The goal was credited to Tomas, and APOEL’s lead was cut in half. Any thought of a rally was squashed in the 77th minute, as a nifty passing play was finished off by Ghayas Zahid and APOEL took a vital 3:1 away win.
|Apollon Limassol||3 - 1||Anorthosis|
|Maglica 49',59',67'||Igiebor 74'|
The pressure was on Apollon after APOEL’s victory as they hosted Anorthosis in Limassol. The hosts came out with determination and enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession, but could never seem to get it right once they reached the box. The result remained a scoreless first half.
Apollon were not discouraged and they finally broke through in the second half. Their hard work paid off in the 48th minute as a corner was headed past Ariel Harush by Anton Maglica to give Apollon the advantage. The hosts came knocking again, but Andre Schembri’s header was caught and held by Harush. Then, Maglica had a volley on net, Harush made the save, but he got his own rebound and fired it into the net for a 2:0 Apollon lead. Clearly it was his day, for in the 66th minute, a good cross from Fotis Papoulis was slotted home by Maglica, who once again was in the right place at the right time to complete the hat trick. Anorthosis looked to get on the board and did so in the 74th minute, as Nosa Igiebor’s powerful header from a corner found the back of the net. It was too little, too late for the visitors in the end, and Apollon kept the pace with their own 3:1 win.
So the day finished as it began with Apollon still leading the league and APOEL sitting just 2 points behind before the teams face each other next weekend in Nicosia. Anorthosis remain in 3rd, just 3 points ahead of 4th place AEK.