By Nemanja Bjedov
Limassol outfit Apollon celebrated an unlikely 2-0 victory over French side OCG Nice at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium, while Cypriot champions APOEL secured a 1-1 draw away with Belgium’s SV Zulte-Waregem, in the first leg of the Europa League playoff round on Thursday night.
After a very slow first half, Apollon’s Argentinean forward Gaston Sangoy scored twice to provide his team with an excellent result before the second leg next week in France.
Sangoy, who played for Apollon from 2007 to 2010 and returned to Limassol after three seasons in Spain where he played for Sporting Gijon, opened proceedings directly from a free kick nine minutes into the second half, then made it 2-0 10 minutes later when he connected with Roberto Garcia’s cross.
Meanwhile, at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels, Zulte-Waregem took the lead midway into the first half when Chelsea’s Eden Hazard’s younger brother Thorgan, assisted defender Junior Malanda to beat Urko Pardo in APOEL’s goal.
Both Hazard and Malanda are on loan at Zulte-Waregem, from Chelsea and VfL Wolfsburg respectively.
When Pardo made an excellent save after Jens Naessens’ placed shot with two minutes remaining in the regulation, it looked like the Belgian side would bring a narrow win with them to Nicosia for next Thursday’s second leg.
But Nektarios Alexandrou had other plans and he made it all square in the last minute of the match, much to the delight of the numerous loyal APOEL fans who had flown in to support their team.