The top of the table clash between Apoel and AEK ended in a 1-1 draw allowing AEL and Apollon to leapfrog AEK and move to within three and four points off the top following their respective weekend wins over relegation candidates AEZ and Doxa Katokopias.
More than 11,000 fans turned up to watch the eagerly-awaited derby between Apoel and AEK, and from a footballing perspective they must have been disappointed, as the game was poor and at times tedious.
Despite a bright start, Apoel’s early burst of energy quickly died out with AEK gradually getting into the game.
In fact, it was the visitors who missed a glorious chance to take the lead midway through the half when Acoran, from well inside the penalty area, managed to balloon the ball high into the blue sky with Apoel’s keeper Boy Waterman out of position.
Where Acoran failed, AEK’s new signing Florian Taulemesse succeeded eight minutes before the break, albeit with a stroke of good fortune. Ortiz’s dangerous right-wing cross first struck Apoel’s Artymatas before ricocheting off the AEK striker and in off the post.
AEK almost doubled the score just after the break when Waterman parried Ivan Triscovski’s shot into the path of Ortiz who decided to square the ball instead of going for goal and the chance went begging.
From then on it was one-way traffic, with Apoel pouring forward in search of the equaliser.
Igor de Camargo was denied by AEK keeper Giorgallides when clean through, but other than that Apoel created precious little.
Apoel coach Thomas Christiansen reverted to three at the back, introducing two attack-minded players in Bertoglio and Barral.
However, AEK stood firm and coped with consummate ease with whatever the home side threw at them. Catala, Moisof and Murillo were in commanding form at the heart of defence while their two wingbacks, Ortiz and Garrido, snuffed out any threat from Apoel’s tricky wingers, Efraim and Aloneftis. Apoel’s attempts on goal were limited to long-range efforts with all but one failing to find the target.
Fifteen minutes from the end though Apoel managed to equalise after top scorer Pieros Sotiriou took advantage of a rare lapse in the AEK defence and slid the ball past Giorgallides.
Of the two coaches AEK’s Imanol Idiakez seemed the more pleased saying that “it’s not easy playing here (GSP) against Apoel, we earned a good point.”
For his part Christiansen said: “I am not satisfied with the final score, we had ten attempts on goal and AEK had just four”.
It was a rather simplistic description by Christiansen, who, if anything, should feel happy with the one point.
As expected the two Limassol teams AEL and Apollon registered easy wins against AEZ Zakakiou and Doxa Katokopias.
AEL were 3-0 winners over AEZ, with Nicolaou, Mezga and Arouabarrena getting the goals. Apollon also scored three through Vinicius, Sardinero and Piech, with Doxa managing a consolation goal at the end through Korominas.
The sixth-place position has a new tenant, Anorthosis, after they defeated bottom-placed Anagennisi Dheryneias 3-0 and Nea Salamina and Ermis played out a goalless draw.
Gabriel got Anorthosis going early in the first half, while winter signing Andre Alves doubled the score with Rayos scoring the third three minutes from the end.
In the final weekend game, fifth placed Omonia defeated Aris 4-2 in Limassol.
Another winter signing, Omonia’s Arnasson, set the Nicosia team on their way with a powerful header. Christofi, Vyndra and Derbyshire got the other goals.
Aurelio had briefly cancelled out Arnasson’s opener while Skourtis netted Aris’ second in the 88th minute.
Karmiotissa hosted Ethnikos on Monday evening, with both sides settling for a point after a 2-2 draw.
Highlights of the weekend’s games: