By Nemanja Bjedov
OMONIA and Anorthosis were on Friday reflecting upon the wreckage of their Europa League campaigns after both clubs were sent packing from the competition on a night of horror for Cyprus football.
The Nicosia giants had gone into the second leg of their second qualifying round tie against Astra on Thursday with a precious away goal after a 1-1 draw in Romania last week but went a goal down at the GSP Stadium after 39 minutes when Anthony Scaramozzino netted an own goal which was initially given to Constantin Budescu.
“After all that happened, it is really difficult to say anything. We hoped we would be a bit luckier and if were more clinical in front of their goal we would have qualified. Unfortunately, this is football. We are clearly disappointed, but I believe that we did everything we could to win,” said Omonia coach Toni Savevski.
After Omonia equalised ten minutes after the interval through Lukasz Gikiewic, Astra then went down to ten men when Vincent Laban, who played for Anorthosis for six seasons, was sent off, and it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before the Greens would score a second goal to send them through.
However, they were left stunned when Budescu, who scored a hat-trick last weekend in the opening round of the Romanian championship, found the net to set up the final score.
“We could have qualified today, but they had a player who was very inspired and who scored a goal from a very difficult position. They were better prepared than us although it is not the right time to analyse that.
“When you do not fulfill your dream then clearly you will feel somewhat bitter about it. However, all we have left now is to look ahead. The dream is finished and we need to move on,” added Savevski who did not name a single Cypriot player in his starting line-up.
“We all feel very disappointed. We have an excellent group of players, great president, great coaching staff, great fans and after this defeat it feels like we are at a collective funeral. We have to overcome this situation and prepare ourselves for the domestic championship,” he concluded.
Anorthosis meanwhile threw away a 3-0 first leg advantage as they suffered a 4-0 defeat against Swedish outfit Gefle IF on the artificial turf of the Stromvallen Stadium, conceding twice in the last five minutes.
“Despite the good result in the first leg, things went badly for us. The responsibility is mine,” said dejected Anorthosis coach Christakis Kassianos.
“It was very hard to play on the artificial turf, but there are no excuses for this humiliating defeat. We have conceded the last three goals out of literally nowhere,” he added.