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Apoel back on top after winning top of the table showdown

Champions Apoel beat title rivals Apollon 2-1 in Limassol in the big game of the weekend

Apoel were the big winners of the weekend’s top of the table clash against Apollon and moved above the Limassol side at the top of the table as the championship now enters the crucial playoff stage.

Omonia made sure of their place in the top six with a convincing 2-0 over AEL, overtaking Nea Salamina in the process, who could only draw at home to Alki.

In a tense and fiercely contested game at the Tsirion stadium Apoel came back from a goal down, to defeat their big championship rivals Apollon 2-1.

The champions just about deserved their win in a game where chances were few and far between with both sets of players more intent on keeping a clean sheet than scoring at the other end. In the opening 45 minutes Apoel managed just one good goal-scoring opportunity to Apollon’s none, while in the second half, each side had a chance each, both in added time with Papoulis and Zahid being denied by the respective goalkeepers.

This was the third consecutive match that Apollon has lost to Apoel, and this despite taking the lead in this tight game just after the hour mark through their top scorer Facundo Pereira. However Apollon hung onto their lead for just three minutes, something that their coach Sofronis Avgousti said was pivotal in the final outcome.

It was a soft goal to concede as Natel’s strike from the edge of the box caught Apollon goalkeeper Bruno Vale both unsighted and wrong-footed.

However it was apparent over the 90 minutes that Apollon sorely missed the Croatian Anton Maglica who left Apollon for China earlier this month to continue his career at Guizhou Hengfeng. His departure may tip the scales in favour of  rivals Apoel and AEL especially as the transfer period ended on the last day of January.

Apoel seem to have found a new hero in their tall gangling striker Norbert Balogh. For the second consecutive game the Hungarian proved his worth, this time latching on to Zahid’s through ball to beat Apollon goalkeeper Bruno Vale from the edge of the penalty box six minutes from the end. Balogh could have doubled his tally in added time when clean through, but he unselfishly squared to Zahid who somehow managed to make a hash of it and the chance went begging.

Anorthosis finished the regular season with a 3-2 away win to Ermis Aradipou but it all proved pointless as they finished outside the top six.

Cleary disillusioned and saddened with all the off-field events going on at Anorthosis, their coach Jurgen Streppel made his feelings known when he took his entire team to the post-game press conference and accused the club of leaving the players unpaid for 2-3 months and without even a club doctor.

Andreas Panteli resigned over the weekend as the club’s president.

Omonia overcame a lacklustre AEL at the GSP stadium with their Costa Rican striker David Ramírez grabbing both goals, one in each half.

AEK needed 53 minutes and a rather soft penalty to break the deadlock against relegation threatened Enosis Neon Paralimni at the Arena stadium.

Eventually AEK ran out 3-0 winners with Larena, Akino and Triscovski getting onto the scoresheet.

Alki managed a draw against Nea Salamina and the point may prove precious as they battle to avoid relegation. Both goals were scored in the first half with Alki taking the lead through Carlos in the 17th minute and Fustar equalising on the half hour.

In the final weekend game Pafos FC moved well clear of the relegation zone as they overcame Doxa Katokopias 1-0 thanks to a 55th minute Angulo goal.

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