Cyprus Mail

Apollon end campaign with another defeat

By Andreas Vou

Apollon were unable to end their Europa League campaign on a high after suffering a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Villarreal at the GSP Stadium on Thursday night.

The result ended up having little impact on Group A as each side remained as they were prior to kick-off. Apollon ended bottom and Borussia Monchengladbach’s 3-0 win over FC Zurich in the group’s other game meant the Germans claimed top spot while the Spaniards finished second.

Apollon had lost their previous four European matches on the bounce and had little to play for as a result. This gave manager Ioan Andone a chance to rest some of his star players ahead of a testing run of matches in the league, which is now the club’s priority for the season.

Striking duo Jan Rezek and Gaston Sangoy began on the bench but Apollon gave a good account of themselves in their absence in the opening exchanges.

Much like APOEL on Wednesday against Ajax, Apollon defended commendably for large parts of the first-half but were eventually undone by two goals in the last 10 minutes of the half.

Villarreal went into the game on the back of some excellent form having won four of their last five matches and their confidence was evident.

Gerard Moreno opened the scoring with a delightful dink over Apollon goalkeeper Isli Hidi. Promising young Argentine striker Luciano Vietto then doubled his side’s lead five minutes later with a neat left-footed finish.

The introduction of Rezek and Sangoy saw Apollon create a handful of decent chances. Sangoy twice came close from set plays: first, a 35-yard-free kick with 20 minutes to go, whistled wide.

Then, just minutes later, another free-kick from a wider position wreaked havoc for Villarreal as his cross-come-shot bounced just in front of goalkeeper Sergio Ansejo – the keeper then spilled the ball but the deflection off the nearby Apollon player fell kindly back into the Spaniard’s hands.

The consolation goal never came and Apollon said farewell to Europe at the group stages as they did last season in the same competition. Yet they will take heart from being the first Cypriot club to ever reach the group stages of the Europa League in successive seasons.

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