APOEL see off Viitrul with explosive extra time performance
A changed APOEL side walked into the GSP Stadium on Wednesday night to face Romanian champions Viitorul just a week since their 1-0 defeat in Romania and the termination of former coach Mario Been. The return of Giorgos Donis saw APOEL put together a much awaited performance defeating Viitorul 4-0 in overtime to advance to the next round of Champions League qualifying.
The appointing of Donis gave a much needed psychological boost to the players of APOEL before a very important Champions League qualifier against Viitorul in Nicosia. Donis made changes to the starting lineup putting Vander, Aloneftis and Carlao on the pitch from the opening whistle.
The Romanians started the game as the better side and missed two important chances to open the scoring, however both opportunities were kept out by APOEL. After the first 20 minutes, the hosts gained ground on the pitch and began pressing the visitors in their own half. Igor De Camargo had one important chance, but was denied by Ramniceanu, while the rest of the half did not produce anything to note.
The half-time pep talk by Donis must have worked as the Galazokitrinoi came into the second half with a strong presence as Aloneftis’ shot was blocked by Ramniceanu just minutes after the restart. Carlao put fire into the GSP stadium when his 53rd minute header from Aloneftis’ corner found the back of the net, brinig the scores level on aggregate.
The goal gave wings to APOEL as the hosts pressed on for another only to see their efforts go to waste in an attacking crescento. The 1-0 scoreline remained until the end of the 90 minutes sending the two teams into overtime.
It was a “dream” first half of extra time for APOEL who scored three goals to leave their opponents in utter shock. Two minutes into overtime, substitute Giorgos Merkis scored a “pallikarisio” goal after a corner by Efraim and two minutes later, De Camargo’s header put the match out of reach.
Waterman kept the clean sheet, denying the Romanians on two occasion before Efraim turned in APOEL’s fourth of the night to make it 4-0 before the end of the first extra period.
In the second extra period, APOEL controlled their comfortable advantage and after 120 minutes of play, secured their place in the Champions League playoffs and at minimum the Europa League group stages.
APOEL will find out their opponents in Friday’s Champions League draw where the Cypriot champions will be a seeded side.