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Apoel’s European campaign over after Tottenham defeat

Nicosia giants Apoel did better than many people expected in a very tough Champions League group

Apoel missed out on a Europa League place following a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their final Champions League group game on Wednesday night.

The Cypriots went into the game knowing that they had to get a better result than Borussia Dortmund, who were facing holders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Things were looking positive early on for Apoel, with news filtering through that Madrid had raced into a 2-0 lead.

Meanwhile at Wembley, Spurs were piling on the pressure but were unable to find the net. Fernando Llorente’s header was fumbled by keeper Nauzet Perez, but he responded well to deny Davinson Sanchez on the follow-up, before Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s subsequent rebound was cleared off the line by Jesus Rueda.

Danny Rose then swung in a corner which was met by Juan Foyth but the header went just wide.

Eventually, however, the opener arrived for the hosts. A pass out wide from Harry Winks found Serge Aurier who whipped in a devilish cross for Llorente. The Spaniard turned superbly with his first touch, and then prodded home with his weaker foot for 1-0.

Soon after, it was 2-0. Heung-min Son found space on the edge of the box, exchanged the ball with Llorente, before curling beautifully past Perez.

The goal came as a huge blow to Apoel’s chances just before the break while, around the same time, Dortmund halved the deficit in Madrid.

At the start of the second half, Apoel so nearly got back into the game. Full-back Praxitelis Vouros drove a shot to the far corner but his goal-bound strike was deflected inches wide by Rose.

It was a sign that it was not going to be their night, and with Dortmund levelling in Madrid, it was becoming an impossible task.

Spurs continued to dominate and the third goal finally arrived with ten minutes left through N’Koudou’s deflected shot.

Madrid got a late winner against Dortmund but, by that time, Apoel’s fate had been sealed. The Cypriots finish bottom of Group H with two points, the same tally as Dortmund but with an inferior goal difference.

Tottenham top the group, with Real in second.

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