Apollon in good shape after win in Lithuania
Apollon Limassol are in a good place after a 2:0 win in Lithuania over Kauno Žalgiris in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League first qualifying round clash.
Ioannis Pittas scored in his return for the Limassol side, and a late Emilio Zelaya penalty provided additional breathing room ahead of next week’s return leg in Cyprus. All in all, Apollon carried the play and if not for some missed chances, the margin of victory could have been even bigger.
Nonetheless, a result like this is what Apollon came to Lithuania looking for. The second leg will take place in one week’s time in Cyprus.
Kauno Zalgiris hosted Apollon at the Suduva Stadium in Marijampole, Lithuania, since their regular stadium, the Darius and Girenas Stadium in Kaunas, is not up to UEFA standards. Apollon had the early momentum and it didn’t take long for it pay off.
In the 14th minute, Ioannis Pittas curled in a shot that Kauno keeper, Deividas Mikelionis, got a large piece of, but the ball still snuck through for a goal. It was a dream start to his Apollon career for Pittas, newly returned from a loan at Enosis Neon Paralimni. Pittas also recently won his first cap for the Cypriot national team.
Joao Pedro tried to double the Apollon lead, but this time, Mikelionis managed to make the save. Apollon carried a 1:0 lead into the halftime break.
The second half was more of the same. Emilio Zelaya missed the net on an early chance, and then Sasa Markovic had a shot saved by Mikelionis. Zelaya scuffed another good chance wide, keeping the hosts in it, and then Mikelionis denied Vincent Bessat. In goal for Apollon was Swiss keeper, Joel Mall, who recently arrived from Pafos FC. He did not face a shot until the 78th minute, when finally he was pressed into action, knocking aside an attempt from Edvinas Kloniunas. Mall came up large again when he made a save on Philip Otele.
These saves kept Apollon in front, and then with a little hustle, Zelaya earned a penalty, getting hauled down in the box by Rimvydas Sadauskas. Zelaya missed a couple of chances earlier, but from the spot he hit the net, giving Apollon a valuable insurance marker.
Apollon grabbed the 2:0 win and as such, will carry over a 2:0 lead on aggregate to the return leg next week in Cyprus.
Zalgiris (Mindaugas Cepas): 22. Deividas Mikelionis(GK, Captain), 3. Rudnilson Silva(‘59 18. Edvinas Kloniunas), 4. Martynas Dapkus, 10. Brandao Figueiredo, 11. Yurii Bushman, 13. Daniel Romanovskij, 15. Karolis Silkaitis, 17. Pijus Sirvys(‘79 16. Philip Otele), 19. Deividas Sesplauskis(‘65 77. Linas Pilibaitis), 81. Rimvydas Sadauskas, 88. Dominykas Galkevicius
APOLLON (Sofronis Avgousti): 36. Joel Mall(GK), 4. Vahid Selimovic(‘46 41. Attila Szalai), 5. Esteban Sachetti, 8. Vincent Bessat, 9. Ioannis Pittas, 10. Sasa Markovic, 11. Emilio Zelaya, 17. Joao Pedro, 26. Fotis Papoulis(Captain)(‘65 87. Serge Gakpe), 44. Hector Yuste, 77. Adrian Sardinero(‘80 18. Diego Aguirre)
HIGHLIGHTS: ZALGIRIS - APOLLON LIMASSOL