Cyprus Mail
Football Sport

Clumsy Apollon crash out of Europe

By Andreas Vou

Apollon were the architects of their own downfall as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of FC Zurich on Thursday night, ending any slim hopes of reaching the knock-out phase of the Europa League.

The Limassol side had to win in Switzerland to stand any chance of qualifying for the next round after three consecutive European defeats caused a huge dent to their aspirations.

It was evident from Apollon’s starting lineup that manager Ioan Andone had all but accepted the team’s fate in the competition and was looking ahead to the big league game coming up on Monday against Anorthosis, as he rested key trio Marcos Gullon, Gaston Sangoy and Jan Rezek.

Nevertheless, the chosen eleven were not to give up without a fight – it was Apollon who started the game the brighter of the two teams.

Apollon’s positive start eventually brought them the opener with an absolute scorcher – Farley Rosa took one touch to steady himself and another to curl a beautiful effort into the top corner of the net, far beyond the outstretched David Da Costa in the Zurich goal.

The lack of expectation seemed to give Apollon an air of confidence in the opening third of the game but it would soon turn to complacency.

Zurich responded on 32 minutes with a lovely equaliser – a low cross into the box from Marco Schönbächler found Davide Chiumento, who showed great awareness and composure to lay the ball off to Berat Djimsiti who firmly side-footed into the net.

Then, just seven minutes later, Bruno Vale’s hesitancy to collect a loose ball in the box allowed Schönbächler to steal in and touch the ball beyond the keeper, who was then adjudged to have clipped the Zurich player and Yassine Chikhaoui tucked away the resulting penalty.

On the hour mark, another penalty for the home side, again dispatched by Chikhaoui, put the game beyond any reasonable doubt.

A great save by Da Costa from a Thuram header on 79 minutes prevented any chance of a late fightback while the post would deny Apollon deep into injury time to confirm their exit from the European competition.

Apollon will be playing for pride in their final Europa League game of the season against Villarreal on 11 December at the GSP Stadium.

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