By Nemanja Bjedov
Anorthosis and Omonia recorded positive results in their respective UEFA Europa League second qualifying round first leg matches on Thursday night; Anorthosis trounced Sweden’s IF Gefle 3-0 at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca, while Omonia drew 1-1 away from home with Romanian side FC Astra Giurgiu.
“It was a match of two different halves,” assessed Omonia’s coach Toni Savevski. “We conceded a very early goal and then tried to bounce back throughout the entire first half, but only in the second half did we actually start doing well.
“Once we got back into the match, I feel our response was really good and we even had chances to win.”
The hosts took an early initiative and managed to open the proceedings after only eighth minutes, showing their quality, and it is clear Omonia will have to be at their best and commit minimal errors in order to progress.
Nonetheless, Jose Paulo Andrade’s equalizer midway into the second half, when he headed home Giorgos Ephraim’s corner, should leave Savevski satisfied ahead of the second leg next Thursday at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium.
“The second leg will be a very tricky one because its outcome will directly determine who will progress to the next round,” said Savevski. “They can play very well on counter attacks as they have players who are quality finishers.
“However, this was our first official match of the season and I firmly believe we will do better in Nicosia,” concluded Savevski, whose team will take on either IFK Goteborg of Sweden or Slovakia’s FK AS Trencin should they overcome their second round opponent.
Meanwhile, Anorthosis coach Christakis Kassianos was pleased with his side’s convincing victory over IF Gefle.
“This was a very difficult match for us because we had to face a team that was clearly better prepared than us,” he said. “We needed to play smart and use their weaknesses in order to get the desired result.
“Now we have the second half ahead of us in Sweden, on the stadium with artificial turf, and we need to remain fully focused. I believe that scoring a goal would make our job much easier.”
Anorthosis will face either Qarabag FK of Kazakhstan or Polish side Piast Gliwice should they advance past the Swedes.
In the meantime, Cyprus champions APOEL have been drawn to face either Maltese Birkirkara FC or NK Maribor of Slovenia in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. The first leg between the two teams ended in a goalless draw on Tuesday night at the Infetti Ground in Birkirkara.