By Andreas Vou
Newly appointed Apollon manager Ioan Andone got off to a nightmare start as his side were dealt a 5-0 thumping by Borussia Monchengladbach on Thursday night, their second straight Europa League defeat.
Apollon started the game confidently but their good early work was cancelled out by a moment of madness from midfielder Hugo Lopez, who rather than clear the ball out of defence, opted for a horizontal pass across his own penalty box which was dispossessed. Branimir Hrgota then laid the ball off to Ibrahima Traore who hit a sweet left-footed strike which wrong-footed goalkeeper Bruno Vale to give Gladbach the lead after just eleven minutes.
Early in the second half, Lopez had a good chance to atone for his error as a hopeful up-and-under pass played the former Barcelona youth player through on goal but his tame effort was easily stopped by Yann Sommer in the Germans’ goal.
The Cypriots had Vale to thank for keeping the scoreline at just 1-0 in the first-half following a number of excellent saves but the Portuguese stopper was helpless to prevent Apollon’s second-half capitulation.
Just five minutes after Lopez’s chance to level the game, Apollon were 2-0 down. Another top save from Vale to deny Traore only fell as far as Hrgota whose rebound trickled over the line.
Traore, who had terrorised the Apollon defence throughout the night, scored his second on 67 minutes with another left-footed strike coming in from right-hand side of the box. Second half substitute Patrick Hermann got in on the act seven minutes from time with a close range effort before Thorgan Hazard completed the rout with a deflected effort in injury time to seal a 5-0 thrashing.
Elsewhere in Group A, Villarreal comfortably dealt with the challenge of FC Zurich, defeating the Swiss side 4-1. The result means the Spaniards preserve their lead at the top of the group while Apollon’s defeat drops them to third place.