Apoel suffered a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of European champions Real Madrid on Tuesday night at the GSP Stadium.
The Cypriot champions were put to the sword by the Spanish giants but Tottenham’s win over Borussia Dortmund in the group’s other game means they are still in with a chance of making third spot which would take them into the Europa League with one game to go.
Madrid sent an early warning to their hosts when Karim Benzema’s cross found Cristiano Ronaldo, who brought the ball down well and struck powerfully but Nauzet Perez did enough to deny the Portuguese star.
Apoel responded well as Roland Sallai’s cross from the left caused some problems for Madrid before Nuno Morais’ effort from distance was caught by Kiko Casilla.
Eventually, however, Madrid took the lead midway through the first half. Vinicius thought he had dealt with the danger when he flicked the ball out of the area but Luka Modric caught the ball sweetly on the volley, bouncing beyond the palms of Perez for 1-0.
Apoel almost levelled instantly when Praxitelis Vouros put in a good cross with his left foot with Sallai arriving late in the box, connecting with his head but firing over the bar.
Despite not being dominated by Madrid until that point, the floodgates opened before the break. On 37 minutes, Toni Kroos played Benzema in on goal and the Frenchman finished calmly beyond the keeper for 2-0.
The game was effectively put to bed four minutes before the break. Marco Asensio’s corner was headed on by Raphael Varane, and defensive colleague Nacho was on hand to flick home for a third.
Yet there was still time for one more before the referee’s whistle as a quick counter attack ended with a generous assist from Ronaldo for Benzema to tap in his second of the night.
The second half began as the first ended. Ronaldo eventually got his goal as he headed in Marcelo’s perfect cross and, five minutes later, the Portuguese forward had his second. Jesus Rueda’s weak backpass was intercepted by Benzema and the ball fell kindly to the current Champions League top scorer who notched in his eighth of the campaign.
The defeat, although painful, was softened by the news of Spurs defeating Dortmund, as it means Apoel are still tied with the Germans on two points each heading into Matchday Six.
On December 6 Dortmund host Madrid while Apoel head to Wembley to face group leaders Tottenham with a Europa League place, somehow, still up for grabs.
The scores in the night’s other games were:
Borussia Dortmund 1
Man City 1
Spartak Moscow 1
NK Maribor 1
Shakhtar Donetsk 0
RB Leipzig 4