By Nemanja Bjedov
AEL remain alone at the top of the national football championship, with 10 points from four matches after a goalless draw against Omonia at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium on Sunday, while Doxa Katokopia spoiled Anorthosis’ perfect record with a 2-1 win in Larnaca the same evening.
“We came here to play our game and try to beat a very good team,” said AEL’s coach Lito Vidigal, whose team had to play with 10 men for over half an hour after their Moroccan goalkeeper Karim Fegrouch was sent off for a foul outside his area.
“Our focus was spot on from the beginning and we imposed our style of play on them. Regardless of the fact that we were playing away from home, we always want to win.
“In the second half our pace dropped a bit,” Vidigal went on, “but we still defended well and had a few chances to score too. Congratulations to my players as they fought hard and gave everything they had on the pitch.”
Omonia have collected only four points from four matches, but coach Toni Savevski nonetheless remained optimistic.
“We still need to improve more to achieve our goals in the national championship, but I strongly believe that if we continue working as we are now that we are on the right track,” he said, adding: “especially today we tried to push for a win, but in a match without any clear-cut chances, unfortunately it was not meant to be.
“Obviously top teams will always try to win regardless if they play home or away. This was a match against an opponent who had more physical strength than us. They were aggressive, always in the right context.
“They played really well until they had a player sent off and then it became difficult for them to create opportunities,” assessed Savevski.
Meanwhile, after a perfect start and three victories from as many matches, Anorthosis lost 2-1 to Doxa Katokopia at Larnaca’s Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium. Doxa skipper Ricardo Fernandes had a goal and an assist against the team he made nine appearances for in 2009.
Jorge Costa’s men are now second with nine points, with Apollon in third with an identical number of points but an inferior goal difference.
“We must understand that the matches last 90 minutes and today we were present for only 45,” admitted Anorthosis coach Costa.
“We conceded a goal very early on and then another one shortly thereafter to start the match – I would not have been surprised if Doxa scored some more goals in the first half,” he said.
“In the second half we changed some things around and we played much better. I am disappointed with the result but I have confidence in my players as the second-half performance was the one I expect from them every time they step on the pitch,” Costa added.
Earlier in the weekend, on Saturday evening, APOEL narrowly defeated Nea Salamina 1-0 away from home – the defending champions now in fourth position with seven points – while Apollon overcame Alki 2-1 in Limassol.
On Sunday, Aris and Ethnikos Achnas played out a 1-1 draw, while AEK beat Enosis Neon Paralimni 2-0 at Larnaca’s GSZ Stadium.
In the final Round 4 match Monday evening, Ermis Aradippou host AEK Kouklion at Larnaca’s Ammochostos Stadium.