A goal two minutes from the break from Pavlovic gave FC Copenhagen a narrow but well deserved win over APOEL in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier on Tuesday night.
FC Copenhagen pressed forward from the first whistle, bossing possession and moving forward with lightning speed.
Their front runners Pavlovic and Santander were finding plenty of space in the visitor’s backline, turning their personal markers on a number of occasions with Pavlovic twice going close, once as early as the 6th minute but he stabbed the ball wide from close range.
Just after the half hour the same player turned his marker with ease but his shot was beaten away by APOEL’s goalkeeper Waterman.
The Danes finally got the goal they deserved when a long through ball found APOEL’s defender Astiz napping and Pavlovic rounded Waterman to slot the ball into an empty net.
APOEL did very little in the first half, managing just one attempt on goal through Efraim who blasted the ball into the terraces when a pass to the unmarked Orlandi would have been a much better option.
At the interval APOEL was forced into a change with Merkis taking the place of the injured Carlao.
APOEL began the second half slightly better, moving the ball around and trying to find an opening. However it was the Danes who created the first chance in the second half but Verbic’s strike flew just over the bar.
APOEL replied on the hour mark but Merkis’ header from close range was comfortably saved by Copehangen’s keeper Olsen.
As the second half progressed FC Copenhagen retook control of the game and began looking menacing going forward. Verbic’s shot came off the post and minutes later a low cross left Waterman stranded but no Danish players followed through for an easy tap in.
And when everyone expected APOEL to cave in they bounced back and went close twice, first through Gianniotas whose shot went just the wrong side of the post and then De Camargo, who came on for the ineffective Soteriou, who could not beat Olsen with the whole goal gaping at him.
However the biggest chance of the game came in the final minute with Waterman first blocking Cornelius’ close range effort and on the rebound Delaney squeezing the ball wide.
The narrow scoreline gives APOEL plenty to play for in the second leg next Wednesday in Nicosia but it will be a tough match as the Danes showed that they are a formidable team who can break forward with ease.
APOEL will be looking to repeat their 2009 triumph over the Danes, having lost the away leg by the same score and then going on to be beat the Danes 3-1 in Nicosia and securing qualification to the group stages for the first time in their history.