All three Cypriot teams qualify in Europa League

All three Cypriot teams qualify in Europa League

The three Cypriot teams, AEL, AEK and Apollon, each recorded a win in the second leg of their respective qualifiers and advanced to the 3rd qualifying round in the Europa League. AEL and AEK recorded home wins over Progres (2-1) and Cork City (1-0) respectively, while Apollon won away 1-2 against Zaria in Moldova. 

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With a 0-1 win from the first leg, AEL Limassol searched for an early goal at home against Progress in order to finish the job. The first half was a monologue from the Limassol side with many attacking plays and efforts, but the teams went into the break scoreless. The second half was more balanced and AEL found the breakthrough with a rocket from Fidelis who opened the scoring in the 69th minute. Progres managed to spark life into the game equalizing with a couterattack in the 82nd minute with Francois and for a few minutes, the visitors pushed for another goal which would have turned the tie around. However, Lafrance killed the game off finding a second goal of the night for the hosts two minutes before the end for a final 2-1 scoreline. Next up for AEL is Austria Wien, a much strong opponent after two lower quality teams in the first and second qualifying rounds. 

AEK Larnaka returned to Cyprus after earning an important 0-1 away win against Irish side Cork City. The Larnakeis controlled the game and did not let Cork City pose a threat. In the 32nd minute,  Florian Tolemes opened the scoring for the hosts to give them a 2-0 lead on aggregate. With little to note in the second half and AEK ruling the pace of the game, the hosts marched on to an easy 1-0 win to secure their place in the Europa League third qualifying round. AEK will face Dinamo Minsk in the next round of qualifying and although the team from Belarus will be a tougher obstacle, AEK have the experience and the talent to reach the play-offs. 

With a 3-0 first leg home victory over Zaria,  Apollon Limassol simply needed to finish the job in Moldova in the second leg. Despite the comfortable lead, the Limassol side went on full attack during the first half missing chance after chance, until finally Marios Stylianou was awarded a penalty which Alex Da Silva turned into a 0-1 lead. A minute into the second half, Zaria equalised with Focsa, however that did not trouble the visitors as Apollon went on full attack once again. Andre Schembri gave Apollon their second win over Zaria with his goal in the 79th minute and the Limassol side will visit Scotland to face local side Aberdeen in the 3rd qualifying round. 

by: Marios Antoniou
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