The crowning of this year’s Cyprus football champions has been delayed for at least another week following Apoel’s draw with AEK, while in the relegation scrap, Doxa Katokopias’ win against Karmiotissa means that the third team to be relegated will be decided on the final day of the season, with four teams now somewhat involved.
The eagerly-anticipated game between Apoel and AEK was dominated by the two defences, with neither side willing to commit too many players forward. In 90 minutes of action, both sides were unable to carve out a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
AEK were by far the better side in the first half, but despite their possession and good build-up play, they were always lacking in the final third of the pitch.
Ivan Trisckovski looked rusty up front, after being out of competitive play for almost two months, while nippy winger Tete was more concerned with his defensive duties rather than providing strikers Florian and Triscovski with any good service.
Apoel were a shambles in the opening half with their players chasing shadows for large periods.
Their forward Pieros Sotiriou hardly got a kick in the opening 45 minutes, and this despite manager Thomas Christiansen’s decision to beef up his midfield and deploy three defensive midfielders.
At the start of the second half Apoel brought on speedy winger Stathis Aloneftis and the balance of play changed. The home side got more of the ball and forced AEK to retreat.
However Apoel’s play was predictable and the visitors’ defence, expertly marshalled by Katala and Murillo, had little problems in coping with anything that was thrown at them.
The visitors hardly ventured forward in the second half and seemed (surprisingly) happy with a point.
Christiansen was the happier of the two managers as the title is still in their hands, with Apoel needing one win from their final two games to be crowned champions.
In the other Championship Group game, Apollon kept their slim chances of the title alive with a convincing 3-0 over much maligned Omonia who had their goalkeeper Panayi to thank for stopping an even more embarrassing scoreline.
Apollon opened the score four minutes before the break through Anton Maglica and after weathering Omonia’s pressure early in the second half added two more through an Alex da Silva penalty and Vinicius.
Doxa Katokopias continued their Houdini act with a memorable 2-1 away win over Karmiotissa.
The two teams are now level on points but Doxa hold the advantage as they have a better head-to-head record.
Gulon and Eniful gave the visitors an early two-goal lead with Karmiotissa reducing the arrears through Polianec before the break.
Doxa could have wrapped up the game in the 64th minute but Fofana was unable to beat Karmiotissa keeper Kyrenios.
In the final 20 minutes Karmiotissa pressed forward for the equaliser but poor finishing and some excellent saves by Doxa’s Negri denied them a goal.
In other games, Ermis defeated Nea Salamina 3-0 while Ethnikos Achnas and Aris shared the points in a 1-1 draw.
As things stand, Nea Salamina, Aris, Doxa and Karmiotissa can all still go down depending on the results of their final two games.
In the final match of the round on Monday night, AEL beat Anorthosis 2-0 at the Tsirion stadium, with Ismail Sassi scoring both goals.