Dream start to Euro 2020 qualifiers for 5-star Cyprus
UEFA EURO 2020 QUALIFYING - MATCHDAY 1
|Cyprus||5 - 0||San Marino|
Cyprus got off to a dream start in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers after dominating minnows San Marino 5:0 in Nicosia.
Cyprus thrashed San Marino 5:0 to begin UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying with an emphatic win. Pieros Sotiriou led the way with two goals from the spot, while Ioannis Kousoulos, Giorgos Efraim, and Kostas Laifis also all found the back of the net for Cyprus. The 5:0 massacre tied the largest victory in the history of the Cypriot national team.
Although very early in the qualifying process, Cyprus lead Group I on goal differential as a result. Kazakhstan shocked Scotland with a 3:0 win in Astana, while Belgium defeated Russia 3:1 in Brussels.
Cyprus hosted San Marino at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia to kick off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. San Marino surprisingly had the first chance, Filippo Berardi bore down from the left wing, but Konstantinos Panagi made the save. Fotis Papoulis narrowly missed the net at the other end, and then Papoulis let fly with a shot that was knocked down by the San Marino Captain, Davide Simoncini.
The problem was, Simoncini used his arm to do so and a penalty was given. Pieros Sotiriou stepped up to take it and despite San Marino keeper Elia Benedettini guessing the right way, the placement was perfect and Cyprus were ahead on 19 minutes. Marcello Mularoni then took Jason Demetriou down in the box, and another penalty was given. Sotiriou stepped up and beat Benedettini to the same place for a second time and it was quickly 2:0 in the 23rd minute.
Just three minutes later, a Cypriot corner eventually found Ioannis Kousoulos who made it 3:0 from close range. Sotiriou was then subbed out for Andreas Makris shortly thereafter. The 31st minute produced the nicest goal of the night as Nestoras Mytidis dropped off to Giorgos Efraim, and from outside the box, Efraim curled a brilliant effort into the top corner past Benedettini. Cyprus’ first half onslaught resulted in a healthy 4:0 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same, with Cyprus dominating and Panagi rarely appearing on the broadcast camera. In the 56th minute, Kostas Laifis headed a Cypriot corner past Benedettini to make it 5:0 for the hosts.
From there, Cyprus pressed for a sixth. The visitors produced a rare attack when Berardi found Enrico Golinucci, who sped past the Cypriot defense, but then scuffed his shot wide. The best chance for a record breaking sixth goal came when Mytidis had a shot saved by Benedettini, the rebound came to Anthony Georgiou, but Benedettini was able to stop the second chance as well.
In the end, Cyprus were 5:0 winners over San Marino, tying a pair of 5:0 home wins against Andorra, one coming in 2000 in Limassol and the other in 2014 in Nicosia, for the national team’s largest wins in history. This was Cyprus’ fifth ever meeting against San Marino with Cyprus having won all five encounters. It’s also worth noting that Matija Spoljaric made his international debut for Cyprus when he was subbed in for Papoulis.
Cyprus manager Ran Ben Shimon(Israel) fielded a 4-4-2 formation: 1. Konstantinos Panagi(GK), 3. Nikolas Ioannou, 6. Jason Demetriou(Captain) (replaced by Giorgos Merkis in ‘65), 7. Giorgos Efraim, 9. Nestoras Mytidis, 10. Pieros Sotiriou (replaced by Andreas Makris in ‘27), 13. Ioannis Kousoulos, 15. Fotis Papoulis (replaced by Matija Spoljaric in ‘56), 18. Kostakis Artymatas, 19. Kostas Laifis, 21. Anthony Georgiou
San Marino manager Franco Varrella(Italy) countered with a 5-3-2 formation: 23. Elia Benedettini(GK), 3. Mirko Palazzi, 6. Davide Simoncini(Captain), 8. Nicola Nanni (replaced by Matteo Vitaioli in ‘46), 9. Marcello Mularoni, 10. Mattia Giardi (replaced by Lorenzo Lunadei in ‘74), 11. Manuel Battistini, 14. Michele Cervoli, 16. Danilo Rinaldi (replaced by Jose Hirsch in ‘46), 18. Filippo Berardi, 21. Enrico Golinucci
HIGHLIGHTS: CYPRUS - SAN MARINO