It was a mixed night for Cyprus’ three representatives in the Europa League on Thursday, with a win, a loss and a draw between the trio of teams.
Kicking off the triple header were AEK, who hosted Dinamo Minsk in Larnaca. It was the Belarussian side who had the first real chance of the game midway through the half. A wicked inswinging set piece was met by Galovic, who managed to get good connection on his glancing header but directed it just inches wide of the goal.
After a real let off, AEK capitalised by going ahead at the ideal time. Three minutes before the break, Laban threaded a pass in between the lines to Florian, who in turn poked the ball through to Tete. Time seemed to stop as the Spaniard tried to organise his feet, but when he did, he left the home faithful in awe with a delightful chip that finally nestled in the back of the net.
As AEK controlled the second half, a golden chance came for them to double their lead. From a hoof up the field, Florian brilliantly brought the ball down before Trickovski played Hevel in on goal. The Dutchman then cut inside his man to get the ball onto his favoured left foot but put far too much power into the strike and ended up blazing over the bar.
Yet all was forgiven moments later. Again, Florian expertly controlled a long diagonal before teeing up Hevel on the edge of the box. The winger caught the ball sweetly on the bounce and what should have been a routine save ended up in the keeper fumbling the ball into his own net.
The 2-0 scoreline does not put the tie to bed just yet but it certainly gives AEK a healthy lead going into the second leg in Minsk.
Apollon meanwhile faced a tough trip to Pittodrie, where they took on Aberdeen. But they got off to the worst possible start as Ryan Christie put the home side 1-0 up after just four minutes played.
After surviving a first-half onslaught, the Limassol side started the second brighter, and were rewarded on the hour-mark as Jander levelled the tie, and also giving Apollon that precious away goal.
Sachetti is known for his robust style at the heart of the Apollon defence, but his temperament would prove costly for the visitors on the night, as he was given his second yellow card on 71 minutes for a rash challenge on Christie.
It looked as though Apollon were doing enough to secure a creditable draw, but up stepped Aberdeen captain Shinnie to hit an incredible strike from all of 30 yards to hand his side a small advantage ahead of the second leg.
Last up were AEL away at Austria Wien. The Limassol side were left to rue some golden chances in the first half but the 0-0 draw is a credible result at a tough ground.