Apoel kept up the pressure on their title rivals following their narrow 1-0 win over Anorthosis and Apollon’s 1-1 draw with AEL at the Tsirion stadium over the weekend.
In the relegation group, there was no change as the three teams battling to avoid the drop, Doxa, Aris, Karmiotissa, all won their respective games against Ermis, Nea Salamina and Ethnikos Achnas. Doxa remain rooted at the bottom, four points adrift of Aris.
Without impressing, Apoel managed to take the three points against Anorthosis at the Antonis Papadopoulos thanks to their leading marksman, Pieros Sotiriou, who headed in his 17th goal of the season after a pinpoint cross from Roberto Lago after only eight minutes.
The game never reached great heights largely due to Apoel’s early goal, as this allowed them to sit back and preserve their lead.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession, Anorthosis lacked any penetration up front, failing to create one clear goal-scoring opportunity. A couple of long-range efforts by Rayo were all they could conjure, and these were comfortably saved by the visitor’s keeper Boy Waterman.
In fact it was Apoel who could have scored again, first with David Barral in the first half and then with Igor de Camargo late on in the game.
“It was very important for us to start this stage (of the championship) with a win. I am happy for my players after such a gruelling week,” said Apoel boss Thomas Christiansen after the game.
Anorthosis counterpart Rony Levy was evidently disappointed with the defeat saying that his team did not deserve to lose. “The result was not fair, but we have to look ahead to the next game now,” he said.
Elsewhere, Apollon’s Paolo Vinicius turned from villain to hero as he headed in his team’s equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game after first putting through his own net and giving AEL the lead in the 24th minute.
It was no more than Apollon deserved as they pegged AEL back for most of the second half but were thwarted time and time again by AEL’s Venezuelan keeper Romo.
However the result leaves neither side satisfied as Apollon fell further behind Apoel while AEL have now not won any of their last five games.
In the relegation group, Karmiotissa scored the biggest win as they defeated Ethnikos Achnas 5-3 in highly entertaining game.
Ethnikos twice took the lead in the 16th and 53rd minute through Kipiani and Kacharava but on both occasions Ordos got Karmiotissa back on level terms.
Polianec and two from Adamovic gave the home side a three-goal cushion before Kipiani’s second wrapped up the goal bonanza.
Aris recorded an easy 3-0 away win over Nea Salamina with Marangoudakis and Martins giving them a first-half lead before Gonzales hit the third towards the end of the game.
Doxa came back from a goal down to defeat Ermis in Nicosia. Masinoua gave the visitors the lead but Seran Pollo equalised before the break and Braulio hit the winner for Doxa on the hour.
The third game of the championship group took place on Monday night and saw title-chasing AEK held to a 1-1 home draw by ten-man Omonia. The point moves the Larnaca side up to second in the table, six points behind Apoel.
(Highlights courtesy of the Cyprus Football Association)