Cyprus Mail
Sport

APOEL crash out of Europa, joy for Apollon

By Nemanja Bjedov
JENS Naessens’ last-minute strike sent Cyprus champions APOEL crashing out of the Europa League as Zulte Waregem qualified for the group stage of the competition with a dramatic 2-1 playoff win at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia on Thursday night.
The Belgians went through 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week.
There was joy for Apollon though. Despite the Cyprus Cup winners losing 1-0 in Nice, the Limassol side held on for a crucial 2-1 aggregate win following a 2-0 victory in Cyprus in the first leg..
In Nicosia, Zulte broke the deadlock after only 12 minutes when Habib Habibou slotted the ball home. Although the ruling Cypriot champions had the upper hand throughout the first half they failed to find an equalizer, with Irish forward Cillian Sheridan missing probably the best opportunity of the half just two minutes after the visitors took the lead.
Seven minutes into the second half it was 1-1. Sheridan could not reach Joao Guilherme’s low cross across the goal, but Efstathios Aloneftis used his quickness to get ahead of his marker and tap the ball in from the close range on the far post.
When it looked that the game was destined to go into the extra time Franck Berrier made a run down the right flank and crossed the ball into the area where Naessens managed to connect and beat Urko Pardo in APOEL’s goal and as the Belgians started to celebrate, spectators started heading towards the exits.

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