Pafos stun APOEL, Apollon fail to capitalize

Pafos stun APOEL, Apollon fail to capitalize

CYPRIOT FIRST DIVISION - MATCHDAY 19

Date Home Team Score Away Team
2-Feb-19 APOEL 1 - 2 Pafos
2-Feb-19 Anorthosis 1 - 0 Apollon Limassol

APOEL got upended at home by a determined Pafos FC side, but Apollon could not take advantage as they took a loss of their own away to Anorthosis.

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APOEL hosted Pafos FC at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia. The visitors raced out to a fast start as Andreas Karo and Federico Rasic worked a give-and-go that left Karo with the ball in space at the edge of the box. APOEL keeper Boy Waterman came out to cut down the angle, but still got beat through his legs, and Karo give Pafos a 1:0 lead in the 11th minute. They came again, and a cross came in for Bryan Angulo, who put a powerful header on goal, but Waterman, hoping to atone for his earlier mistake came across and made the save. At the other end, Angulo then turned the ball over to Musa Al-Taamari who set up Giorgos Merkis, but Merkis didn’t strike the ball cleanly, and the shot went meekly wide. Then Ghayas Zahid played a cross at midfield to Emilio Nsue, and Nsue did the rest himself, running through the Pafos defense, making a cutback, and firing past Joel Mall to level the match on the 27 minute mark. More questionable moments for Waterman, as he received a backpass and then turned the ball over to Adam Nemec. This time, luck was on the side of the APOEL keeper as Nemec could only hit the post. An APOEL corner landed right on the boot of Kostakis Artymatas, but he could only shoot right into Mall’s arms for a routine save. Mall made a more difficult save on Al-Taamari, and the halftime score was 1:1.

In the second half, Leo Natel tried to give APOEL the lead, but the shot was kicked aside by Mall. A minute past the hour mark, a shot of inspiration for the visitors as Rasic made Praxitelis Vouros look silly, dribbling around him along the goal line, keeping the ball in play, then making a nifty drop pass to Zdenek Folprecht who crossed in for Angulo, who rammed a header past Waterman to restore the Pafos advantage. Al-Taamari wanted to rectify this quickly, and with some good hustle drew a penalty in short order. APOEL Captain Nuno Morais, usually automatic from the spot took the penalty, but this time Mall read him perfectly and dove to his right to make a brilliant save. Less than 10 minutes from time Zahid found himself in space, but he skied the shot over the net. Last chance for APOEL in stoppage time, and Merkis was open for a header, but he couldn’t connect, and the upset was complete, a stunning 2:1 away win for Pafos FC over the defending champs.

This left the door open for Apollon to pass APOEL with a win. Anorthosis hosted Apollon at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca. Apollon brought all the early pressure. In goal for Anorthosis was newly acquired on loan Nigerian international keeper Francis Uzoho, and Uzoho had to be careful when Emilio Zelaya’s strike hit the crossbar but stayed in play, nearly caroming off Uzoho and in. Then Joao Pedro sent in a cross for Facundo Pereyra, but Uzoho stayed with the play and made the save on the ensuing header. Against the run of play came the decisive moment of the match, as Nicolas Stefanelli unlocked Michal Duris with a pass, and Duris dribbled around Bruno Vale and calmly placed the ball behind Vale to give Anorthosis the 39th minute goal and a 1:0 lead, which they took into the halftime break.

Undeterred, Apollon continued their fierce attack in the second half. Fotis Papoulis set up Kevin Bru, but Bru missed the net. Later, Papoulis had a go himself, he hit the crossbar and the ball came down, but never crossed the goal line. Anton Maglica spotted Pereyra going to the net, but Uzoho once again read the play perfectly and made a difficult save look easy. On a counter rush, Erwin Koffi had the chance to put the match away, but Vale made the save to keep his team’s chances alive. Zelaya had a header from in tight, but Uzoho kept that one out, as well. Last chance for Apollon in stoppage time, Giorgos Vasiliou fired off a powerful strike from outside the box, but one more time, Uzoho made the save, and Anorthosis hung on for a 1:0 win at home to Apollon. While Uzoho had an impressive debut earning the clean sheet and the win, Apollon also missed the net on many chances and failed to get a result from a match they dominated.

So here’s how both results affect the standings. APOEL remain in first place thanks to Apollon also losing, Apollon remain two points behind in second place. The door is now wide open for AEL Limassol to leapfrog both teams, depending on what they do at home to AEK Larnaca. For Pafos, this win improves them to 10th place, and they’ve officially regained all the points deducted from them a couple of weeks ago. It was a valuable win for Anorthosis as well. They improve to 5th place, and 7 points clear of the danger zone for missing the playoffs.

 

by Andreas Mantzas

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