AEK & APOEL proceed with wins, Omonoia held by Doxa

AEK & APOEL proceed with wins, Omonoia held by Doxa

CYPRIOT FIRST DIVISION - ROUND 20

Date Home Team Score Away Team
10-Feb-19 Paralimni 0 - 2 APOEL
10-Feb-19 Omonia 2 - 2 Doxa Katokopias
10-Feb-19 AEK Larnaca 2 - 0 Alki Oroklini
11-Feb-19 Pafos 2 - 1 Ermis Aradippou

AEK Larnaca earned an important 2:0 win at home to Alki Oroklini, APOEL capitalized on the Limassol Derby with a 2:0 away win over Enosis Neon Paralimni, while Omonoia were held to a 2:2 draw at home to Doxa Katokopias. Also, Pafos FC won Monday’s game at home to Ermis Aradippou by a 2:1 margin.

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APOEL visited Paralimni and the Stadio Tasos Markou with one goal in mind, to return to winning ways against an in-form Enosis. The hosts looked to stop APOEL’s creative game in attack, however in the 28th minute, Leo Natel found Ghayas Zahid in the heart of Paralimni’s defense and the Norwegian’s strike beat Konstantinos Petrou to give APOEL the 1:0 lead. The first half did not produce much of note with APOEL holding their slender advantage.

Early in the second half, Aleksandr Shcherbakov touched the equalizer for Paralimni, but Boy Waterman came up with a big save. As time went on, APOEL looked for another goal to lock up the game and that goal came in the 87th minute. A great buildup from APOEL exposed the Paralimni defense as Antonio Jakolis sent the ball to Andre Vidigal’s head and he netted the insurance marker into an empty net. APOEL bounced back from a two-game winless streak and continue to lead the league while Paralimni retreated to tenth.

At the AEK Arena in Larnaca, AEK hosted intercity rivals Alki Oroklinis eager to keep their momentum going after their rejuvenation under Imanol Idiakez. Despite the home side’s strong start, it was Alki that had the first big chance as Milija Spoljaric’s 16th-minute free kick shook Tonio Ramirez’s crossbar. Six minutes later, AEK came close to a goal, but Ivan Trickovski’s finish went just over Urko Pardo’s post. The breakthrough came in the 30th minute with Acoran, after a beautiful effort and finish that gave the hosts the lead. Seven minutes later, it was Jorge Larena’s turn to hit the crossbar as Pardo was unable to get a touch on the ball. Alki, in one of the few times they threatened, almost did the damage in the 38th minute when Marios Elia’s header from point blank range was impressively denied by Tono, keeping his team’s one goal lead into halftime.

AEK came in the second half looking to seal the game and they struck seven minutes after the restart. Former Barcelona player, Jeffren Suarez, took the free kick, Pardo made the save, however Trickovski took the rebound and doubled AEK’s lead. AEK kept pushing for more goals with Trickovski and Larena forcing Pardo to big saves. In the 83rd minute, Franco Flores saw a red card for a foul on Acoran leaving Alki with a player less for the last minutes of the game. The score remained unchanged as AEK’s good form continued to inch closer to the three leading teams while Alki dropped down to eleventh place.

Omonoia hosted Doxa Katokopias at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, with a chance to gain ground on Nea Salamina who lost on Saturday for the 6th and final playoff spot. Omonoia knew what was at stake and came out with a lot of energy. David Ramirez had a shot, which Armin Gremsl got a piece of, but then tracked it down in the air before Ramirez could get his own rebound. Alex Soares had a go from outside the box, the shot seemed harmless but ended up eluding Gremsl, but he was saved by his left post. Against the run of play, Doxa earned a corner, and Yevhen Pavlov placed a header past Tomas Mejias. Mejias was in the right place, but just couldn’t come up with the save, and the 26th minute goal flipped the script. Before the half, Charis Mavrias played in a free kick but nobody could get their head on it, and it was an easy save for Gremsl in the end. Doxa led 1:0 at the half despite getting outplayed.

The second half couldn’t have started any worse for Omonoia either. Just seconds into the half, Luis Carlos breezed past Ioannis Kousoulos and had a shot on goal. Mejias made the save, but Vasilis Papafotis was right there to tap in the rebound, and it was 2:0 for Doxa. This brought about the anger in Omonoia, but not the goals right away. Mavrias was denied by Gremsl, and then Jordi Gomez was also turned away. Finally in the 80th minute, their hard work paid off as Sasa Zivec found Mavrias going to the net, Mavrias fired past Gremsl and the deficit was cut in half. Just a couple of minutes later Soares and Gremsl were going for a loose ball, and Soares tackled Gremsl off the ball. Soares wanted a penalty but none was given. Zivec latched onto a ball, but Gremsl made the save. In stoppage time Omonoia brought everything they had. Soares found space and fired from in tight. Gremsl made the save, and the rebound came to Dimitris Kolovos. Kolovos hit the post but followed his rebound and eventually found the back of the net. Omonoia were able to avoid the loss and earn a 2:2 draw against Doxa Katokopias. Omonoia will feel as though they should have won, but they did gain a point on Salamina. They are now 3 points behind them for the last playoff spot. Doxa remain in 8th.

In the Monday game, Pafos FC hosted Ermis Aradippou at the Stelios Kyriakides Stadium in Paphos. The sides traded possession and chances, but none were hitting the target. That all changed in the 43rd minute when Matija Sirok flew down the wing and crossed in for Adam Nemec who beat Giannis Arabatzis with a power diving header. Ermis had a great chance to answer on the last play of the half, a free kick from just outside the box. Kike Boula struck it well, but Joel Mall made an acrobatic save, and Pafos had the 1:0 halftime advantage.

In the second half, some hustle earned Pafos a penalty. Federico Rasic was hauled down in the box by Francis N’Ganga and the penalty was given. Nemec stepped up to take it, and he sent Arabatzis the wrong way. The 58th minute penalty was Nemec’s second goal of the match and it extended the hosts’ lead to 2:0. Bryan Angulo nearly made it 3:0, he beat Arabatzis, but Paris Psaltis was there to clear it off the line. Ermis tried to get back in it, Yaroslav Martynyuk had a powerful strike, but Mall made the save and did well to not let out a rebound. Utter chaos got them what they were looking for as Dimitar Makriev crashed into Mall, which caused a massive pileup, but the ball remained loose and Yiannis Mavrou found it first and put the ball in the net for a 78th minute goal that gave his side a chance. However, from there, Pafos managed to shut them down the rest of the way and hang on for a 2:1 win over Ermis Aradippou. Pafos improve to 9th place with this win, they have now won 3 in a row. Ermis are in last place and by quite a bit.

 

by Andreas Mantzas & Marios Antoniou

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