Apollon and Apoel continued their battle for the Cyprus championship with emphatic 3-1 wins over Anorthosis and AEK respectively over the weekend, leaving next Sunday’s clash between the two sides at the GSP as a virtual title decider.
Apollon controlled play from the very first whistle but they were unable to break down Anorthosis’ stubborn defence in the opening half. The Limassol side went close on a couple of occasions but the best chance fell to Anorthosis’ Danijel Pranjic who raced through on goal only to drag his shot wide of the post.
The second half though belonged to Apollon’s Croatian striker Anton Maglica, who took advantage of the injury and subsequent withdrawal of his marker, Gordon Shildenfeld, and netted a crucial hat-trick for his team.
Maglica opened the score four minutes after the restart and followed up with a fortuitous second, 10 minutes later. He completed his treble midway into the second half with Anorthosis’ Igiebor reducing the arrears in the 74th minute.
Apoel kept up the pressure on Apollon with a 3-1 win over AEK at the Arena stadium. This was AEK’s first home defeat of the season and the first time Apoel left the Arena stadium victorious in five attempts.
AEK coach Imanol Idiakez rested eight players ahead of the cup semi-final return leg in Nicosia against Apoel next Wednesday while Apoel’s Bruno Baltazar restored to the starting eleven nine players he had rested in the first leg last Wednesday.
Nuno Morais opened the score early on in the game for the champions from the penalty spot with Roland Salay doubling the score in the 51st minute.
Apoel seemed to be coasting to victory as AEK were unable to carve out any openings but a blunder by Apoel keeper Perez on the hour mark allowed AEK to pull a goal back.
AEK began pressing forward with more intensity for the equaliser with the visitors clearly rattled.
With AEK committing players forward, Apoel managed to restore their two-goal advantage in the 78th minute with Ghayas Zahid netting from close range.
In the final top group game, AEL managed to score two goals in the last few minutes to overturn a one-goal deficit and inflict on Omonia their ninth consecutive loss.
In the relegation group, Nea Salamina thumped four past leaders Doxa Katokopias while Pafos FC made sure of their first division status for next year with a 1-0 away to Ermis Aradippou, which confirmed Olympiakos’ quick return to the second division.