APOEL come from behind to reclaim top spot over Apollon
CYPRIOT 1st DIVISION - MATCHDAY 22
|Apollon Limassol||1 - 2||APOEL|
APOEL defeated Apollon Limassol 1:2 in the final week of the regular season to reclaim top spot before the playoffs.
APOEL visited the Tsireio stadium in Limassol with only one goal in mind: to win and reclaim first place in the regular season. Apollon, on the other hand, hosted their rivals after taking top spot due to the court’s decision to award Apollon a win in a game they lost against Anorthosis earlier in the season. The developments were sure to set up a promising game in Limassol.
Both teams started strong, however it was obvious that both coaches did not want to take any risks. Leo Natel had the first big chance in the 13th minute. The Brazilian received a clever ball from Savvas Gentsoglou, however his poor first touch allowed Valentin Roberge to deny him with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle. The game seemed balanced with APOEL trying to move the ball more in the attack, however they failed to threaten the Limassol side. The hosts steadily gained ground towards the end of the half, but again with not much action, the two teams reached half time goalless.
Apollon came into the second half as the stronger side while the game opened up as time went on. The much awaited goal came in the 63rd minute for the home side. A cross into APOEL’s penalty area found several Apollon players before finally ending up with Facundo Pereyra, who managed to beat Rafael Romo. Pereyra’s eleventh goal in the league brought excitement in the Apollon stands, however the celebrations were short lived as Natel equalized just three minutes later.
APOEL’s winger received the ball just on the line of Apollon’s penalty area and with a smart shot tricked Bruno Vale to bring things level. APOEL kept the momentum going and in the 84th minute, Ghayas Zahid’s ball put Norbert Balogh into the perfect spot, the Hungarian did not disappoint as he beat Vale and completed APOEL’s comeback. The hosts had one last chance to steal a point in stoppage time, however Romo came up with a big save to deny Fotis Papoulis. Moments later, Zahid found himself in on goal with Vale, but he failed to put the icing on the cake for the visitors. The final whistle saw APOEL claim an important 1:2 victory.
APOEL celebrated a great comeback win against their major title contenders to reclaim first place heading into the playoffs. Paolo Tramezzani’s players showed tremendous character and despite being a goal behind, found a way to cough up an important victory. Apollon, on the other hand, failed to control the game after taking the lead as APOEL’s fast equalizer shifted the momentum and ultimately played a key role in the final result.
Apollon retreated to second place, two points behind the defending champions, who enter the playoff round leading and ready to fight for their seventh consecutive title.
HIGHLIGHTS: APOLLON LIMASSOL - APOEL