Apollon end Europa League campaign on high note, AEK Larnaca suffer at the hands of Leverkusen
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - MATCHDAY 6
|Marseille||1 - 3||Apollon Limassol|
||Maglica (P) 8',30'
As the UEFA Europa League campaigns came to an end for Apollon and AEK Larnaca, one club left with their heads held high while the other in disappointment. Apollon earned a proud 3:1 win in France over Marseille while AEK were destroyed 5:1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen.
We’ll start with the good news as Apollon visited Olympique Marseille at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. The critical moment in this match occurred very early, as Boubacar Kamara took out Andre Schembri’s legs from behind in the box, not even coming close to playing the ball. Not only was a penalty awarded, but it was double trouble for the hosts as Kamara was given a straight red card. Anton Maglica stepped up to take the penalty. The Marseille keeper Florian Escales guessed correctly, but the ball snuck in, and Maglica’s 8th minute penalty gave his side the 1:0 lead.
Marseille did have a quick answer, however, as a corner set up the shorthanded hosts with a set piece and Florian Thauvin found himself with a free header, and with good velocity beat Bruno Vale to level the score. They came again as Dimitri Payet laid off for Lucas Ocampos, but Vale was there to make the save, and he did well to not let out a rebound.
But on the half hour mark, the visitors managed to capitalize on their man advantage, and Marios Stylianou sent in a precise cross that Maglica finished off with his head, and Apollon were back in front. Payet and Ocampos worked a similar play to the one they had earlier, but the result was the same, another save by Vale, and the halftime score was 2:1 for Apollon.
10-man Marseille did not give up, a free kick by Payet found the head of Adil Rami, but he narrowly missed the net. Then Apollon dealt the final blow, as Giorgos Vasiliou sent in a cross that Stylianou rocketed into the top corner past Escales on a volley, an absolute stunner of a 56th minute goal.
Payet threatened Vale with a free kick that buzzed the left post, but otherwise Apollon maintained control for the rest of the match. Ocampos however, did not maintain control as he took an unnecessary foul around midfield in stoppage time with only seconds left to play. Ocampos was already on a yellow, and he saw another one for fouling Sasa Markovic well off the ball for absolutely no reason.
Marseille finished with just 9 men on the pitch, and Apollon finished with a 3:1 win over the French club to finish out their run in the UEFA Europa League. Apollon won their final two matches, it was just too little, too late. They finish in 3rd place in Group H, 2 points shy of Lazio and 11 points behind the group winners Eintracht Frankfurt. Marseille brought up the rear, earning just one point.
|AEK Larnaka||1 - 5||Bayer Leverkuzen|
Back in Cyprus, it was AEK Larnaca hosting Bayer Leverkusen. As they did all through the group stage, they hosted this match at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia instead of their smaller Giorgos Karapatakis AEK Arena in Larnaca. AEK happened to strike first in this one, as Facundo Garcia looped in a cross for David Catala who headed the ball past Thorsten Kirschbaum in the 26th minute. However, it was all downhill from there.
Just two minutes later, Dominik Kohr equalized, sliding the ball past Andreas Christodoulou, who was only now making his AEK debut having watched Tono Ramirez play all league matches, and all Europa matches until this one. Kohr then drew a penalty, which Lucas Alario converted in the 41st minute, and Bayer Leverkusen came from behind to take a 2:1 lead into halftime.
Things went from bad to worse for AEK in the second half. A Bayer corner found Leon Bailey, and Christodoulou did well to tip it over the bar, but all that meant was another corner, and this time Kohr had his second goal of the match in the 68th minute. Then Aleksandar Dragovic played a long ball that Paulinho knocked down and controlled seamlessly, giving him all day to beat Christodoulou for a 78th minute goal.
With the match well out of hand, the German visitors kept bringing the pain, as Bailey played a cross for Alario, who despite being quickly surrounded by 5 white AEK shirts, still got a shot off that eluded Christodoulou, the scoring finally closed on Alario’s second goal of the match in the 86th minute.
It was a shameful way to go out of the competition, as AEK fell hard, 5:1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen. Like their compatriots, AEK took third in Group A with 5 points. Bayer Leverkusen won the group with 13 points, FC Zurich took second with 10 points. AEK did finish ahead of Ludogorets who had 4 points.
This concludes the UEFA Europa League run for the Cypriot teams. APOEL and Anorthosis failed to qualify for the group stage. Overall, AEK and Apollon acquitted themselves decently well in the group stages, but not well enough to advance into the Round of 32. We at AGONAsport are proud to be the internet’s premier source for English language coverage of Greek and Cypriot sports. We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the Cypriot teams in Europe this season, and we welcome you to follow our coverage of the Cypriot First Division, the Cypriot national team, as well as all of our other content.