By Iacovos Constantinou
APOEL took a giant step towards retaining the Cyprus football championship following their 3-2 win over arch-rivals Omonia over the weekend.
Apollon’s defeat in Larnaca against AEK means APOEL opened up a five-point lead at the top with just three games remaining.
An injury time Rafik Djebbour goal gave the defending champions all three points against brave Omonia who had to play almost 70 minutes with ten men after Lobzhanidze received two yellows in quick succession.
APOEL had taken the lead through a 35th-minute De Vincenti penalty but two goals in just as many minutes early in the second half by Nuno Assis turned the game around.
With the home side’s defence in total disarray ten-man Omonia dictated play and could have added a third through Economides but he hesitated when clean through and APOEL raced up the other end to equalise through Alexandrou.
As the game progressed the visitors began to tire and APOEL took control and pressed forward for the winner that came in the third minute of injury time.
In a scrappy game in Larnaca, AEK defeated Apollon 2-0 and moved to within a point of the Limassol team.
Mitides opened the scoring just after the break and Monteiro wrapped it up with virtually the last kick of the game.
The Limassol team finished the match with ten men after Gaston Sangoy was given his marching order ten minutes from time.
Anorthosis missed a great opportunity to leapfrog over Omonia as they were held to a 1-1 draw against indifferent Ermis who continue to impress despite being out of the race for a European finish.
Two penalties, one for each side, settled the game with Ermis’ Onilo and Conzalves the scorers.
In the bottom group a last-gasp equaliser by Doxa’s Ramos almost certainly relegated battling Othellos. With three games to play they trail the team above them by six points.
Despite going behind twice in their game against Doxa, the Athienou team fought back to parity and took the lead for the first time in the 78th minute through Tiago.
However they were unable to hang onto the lead and Doxa snatched the point in injury time.
In the two other games Ethnikos Achnas defeated Nea Salamina 2-1 and Ayia Napa overcame AEL by a solitary goal.