By Andreas Vou
APOEL suffered their third 1-0 defeat in Group F of the Champions League on Wednesday against Paris Saint-Germain, ruling out any possibility of reaching the knockout stage of the competition.
The Cypriot champions were left to rue their lack of concentration in the opening minute of the match which allowed Edinson Cavani to score what would prove to be the winner.
APOEL have proven to be a tough nut to crack, surprising many in this season’s competition by conceding just once in each game against some of Europe’s biggest names.
However, manager Giorgos Donis felt his side played their worst game so far this European campaign.
“When a game starts, it does not matter when you concede a goal. On Wednesday, we were a side with problems. We had our worst game and it showed on the pitch.”
Barcelona’s win over Ajax in the group’s other game leaves APOEL just one point behind the Dutch champions who occupy third place which earns a spot in the Europa League, meaning that the final group game between the two could have a lot at stake.
“However, even on our worst day, we were dignified and we will go, it seems, to Holland for a big game,” said the Greek boss.
As they tend to be at home, PSG were the superior team and the stats reflected that: Laurent Blanc’s side had 68 per cent of the possession as well as 18 shots on goal. The French manager believed the narrow scoreline did not fairly depict the match.
“The result does not reflect the image of the game. We missed a lot of chances and we could have scored more goals. We take the win and that we managed the game better,” said Blanc.
Cillian Sheridan, who came on as a second-half substitute, was hoping APOEL would add points to the board but feels the team’s inability to convert chances is an issue.
“We came here wanting to get a result this time rather than settle just for a good performance but again we leave empty-handed. We create some good chances but we don’t manage to make the most of them and that’s something we have to improve.”
APOEL are not used to conceding goals quickly, and the Irish forward admits that it had a negative impact on the team.
“The French team’s early goal affected us. We’re not used to being behind so early,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, PSG captain Thiago Silva was content with his team’s win and alluded to the fact that APOEL were always going to be tough to get in behind.
“It was better. I think we played a good match. APOEL played behind the ball and it’s hard to find space but it is a match of the Champions League, it’s never easy.”
APOEL forward Gustavo Manduca was largely disappointed with the team’s performance, saying that they “did not play a good game” and that they “made several unforced errors and just had one chance,” yet the Brazilian did not rule out the possibility of a surprise in the next group game.
“First, we need to look to the next game against Barcelona. Who is to say we can’t have a good game and take all three points?”
APOEL take on Lionel Messi and co. on November 25 at the GSP stadium before travelling to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the final group match on December 10.