Salamina surprise APOEL, Wins for AEK and Apollon
CYPRIOT FIRST DIVISION - ROUND 19
|Date||Home Team||Score||Away Team|
|2-Mar-19||AEK Larnaca||1 - 0||AEL Limassol|
|2-Mar-19||Apollon Limassol||3 - 1||Omonia|
|2-Mar-19||Nea Salamina||1 - 1||APOEL|
It was an action-packed first weekend of the 2018-2019 Cypriot First Division Playoffs. AEK Larnaca gutted out a 1:0 win at home to AEL Limassol, Apollon earned a huge 3:1 win at home to Omonoia, and a surprise Nea Salamina team continues to surprise by holding APOEL to a 1:1 draw.
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Let’s start in Larnaca, where AEK Larnaca hosted AEL Limassol at the Giorgos Karapatakis AEK Arena. Igor Silva played a long ball for Apostolos Giannou, but the AEL keeper Patryk Procek alertly cut down the angle, and didn’t leave much net to shoot at for Giannou, and he made the save. The ball stayed in play and Christos Wheeler cleared the ball, and Ruben Jurado found it. He had a shot on goal, but Tono Ramirez made the save, and the rebound went wide. Jorge Larena sent a powerful strike on goal in stoppage time, but Procek stopped that one, too, and there was no score at the half.
AEK carried the play in the early stages of the second half, but it was AEL who threatened to score first, Ramirez sprawled out to make a great save on Jurado. In the 78th minute, it looked like AEK were home free, when Larena forced a save from Procek, but the rebound came to Silva, who scored, and gave AEK the late 1:0 lead. Florian Taulemesse nearly tacked on an insurance marker, Procek got a piece of it, but the ball kept going. That’s when Boris Godal rushed back and cleared the ball off the line, and it ended up being a game saving play. Nestoras Mytidis looked for an equalizer, Ramirez made the save, but the AEK defense failed to clear the ball. Nils Teixeira barely sent the ball wide and AEK hung on for the 1:0 win. AEK are still in 4th place but gain some ground, AEL lose some ground, but they’re still in 3rd.
Next we go to Limassol, where Apollon hosted Omonoia at the Tsirion Stadio. Marinos Tzionis set up Dimitris Kolovos, but he sent the shot just wide. At the other end, a free kick from the side found Emilio Zelaya, and he beats Tomas Mejias to make it 1:0 for Apollon in the 13th minute. David Ramirez tried to answer for Omonoia, but his shot was turned aside by Bruno Vale. Apollon continued to pound the Omonoia net, and they struck again, a low cross from Joao Pedro found Adrian Sardinero, and with a nifty backheel, he beats Mejias, and it was 2:0 for Apollon in the 37th minute, which stood up as the halftime score.
Things only got worse for Omonoia in the second half, Sardinero picks the pocket of Fanos Katelaris and from midfield bears down on the Omonoia net. Katelaris rushed back to take down Sardinero, but that granted but a temporary reprieve for Omonoia, as a penalty was awarded. Fotis Papoulis stepped up and sent Mejias the wrong way, and the 58th minute penalty served as the knockout punch for Apollon. Matt Derbyshire, who hasn’t been playing much of late had the vision to set up Abdul Ajagun, but despite having as much space and time as one could ask for, he didn’t even come close to hitting the target or making Vale worry. Jordi Gomez did spot Ramirez, to at least get Omonoia on the board in the 74th minute, but Apollon still won comfortably, 3:1 at home to Omonoia. Apollon are still in 2nd place, but are now tied for the lead with APOEL. Omonoia fall to 6th place.
Now we go back to Larnaca, where Nea Salamina hosted APOEL at the Stadio Ammochostos. APOEL ended the regular season in first place, and Salamina were the last team in, benefitting from the Francis Uzoho scandal that saw Anorthosis get docked 9 points. Nonetheless, Salamina were out to prove that they were not “just happy to be here”, as they say in sports. Antonio Jakolis was unleashed down the line after a nice ball from Musa Al-Taamari, but Jakolis failed to spot the many APOEL players that were wide open, and instead attempted a low percentage shot from a bad angle, that Robert Veselovsky took care of. Then came the shock opener. In the 10th minute, Jailson Araujo put a shot on net that Rafael Romo stopped, but Tonia Tisdell was right there to pounce on the rebound, and he gave Salamina a surprise 1:0 lead. Ghayas Zahid tried to respond, but Veselovsky acrobatically made the save. In the 36th minute, APOEL did manage to equalize, as Al-Taamari made an incisive backpass that found Zahid, and just like that, it was 1:1, and remained so at the half.
On paper, this was a match APOEL was counting on winning, and they brought the heat in the second half. Al-Taamari let fly from the edge of the box, but missed the net. Giorgos Efraim found Zahid, but he airmailed the shot over the net. All their possession, but the winning goal never came. If anything, Tisdell had a chance to provide a shock winner for Salamina, he took a free kick that hit the wall, it came to Renato Margaca, but the header just barely went over the net, and the end result was a 1:1 draw, one that Salamina will take pride in, and APOEL will certainly not be satisfied with. APOEL remain atop the league standings, but they are now tied with Apollon, their 2 point advantage is gone. Salamina improve to 5th place with the point they earned.