Group stages for Apollon, Elimination for AEK Larnaka
Apollon will be the second Cypriot team that will participate in the group stages of a UEFA competition this season after dispatching Midtjylland 4-3 on aggregate. Unfortunately for AEK Larnakas, they were unable to overcome Viktoria Plzen and were eliminated from the competition.
Apollon traveled to Denmark having a narrow 3-2 lead from their first leg home fixture against Midtjylland. The Danes started the match very strong and managed to open the scoring with Hassan 10 minutes into the game. With the momentum on their side, the hosts pressed on for a second, however Apollon stood firm and went into the break down 1-0.
Apollon’s promising start to the second half led to a quick goal from Andre Schembri just five minutes after the restart, putting Apollon back ahead on aggregate (4-3). The goal changed the complexion of the match, as the hosts strengthened their attack while Apollon sat back and waited to strike on the counterattack. In the 83rd minute, Apollon’s Alex Da Silva failed to convert from the penalty spot and finish off the tie, however his wasted opportunity was not fatal in the end as Apollon survived Midtjylland’s pressure and celebrated their place in the Europa League group stages (4-3 on aggregate).
AEK hosted Viktoria Plzen in Larnaka in an effort to overturn their 3-1 first leg loss in the Czech Republic. The Larnakeis entered the game determined to score a quick goal, however the wasted four clear-cut chances to bring life into the tie. It was a similar story in the second half, as AEK once again pushed on for a goal, but Plzen’s goalkeeper, Ales Hruska, was there to deny the hosts and keep the clean sheet. The game ended goalless, leaving AEK Larnakas out of this year’s Europa League group stages.