Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Apoel keep dream alive with draw against Ajax

Apoel have everything to play for next week after holding Ajax to a goalless draw at the GSP stadium in Nicosia on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Champions League playoffs.

In the opening 15 minutes Ajax moved the ball around sleekly with the Apoel unable to put two passes together.

Gradually though Apoel overcame the initial shock and began stringing passes together and feeding the ball to Mousa Al Taamari who mesmerised the Dutch defence with his surging runs. Al Taamari could have opened the score on the half hour but his shot went wide when clean through on goal.

The second half followed the same pattern with Ajax bossing possession but finding it difficult to break down Apoel’s compact defence.

Van de Beek should have given Ajax the lead early in the second half but he blasted the ball high with just goalkeeper Belec to beat.

Apoel hit back and in a scintillating 15 minute period they tore the Ajax defence apart. Ajax goalkeeper Onana denied Soouza twice with breathtaking saves while Al Taamari hit the side netting from a tight angle with better positioned Vidigal screaming for the ball.

Giorgos Merkis, who scored in the last home game against FK Qarabag, was unlucky to see his header come off the post.

In the final fifteen minutes Ajax regained control and went close twice but first goalkeeper Belec and then Mijailovic with a goalline clearance kept the Dutch at bay.

Ajax finished the game with ten players after Mazraoui was sent off with a second yellow card ten minutes from time.

Apoel will now travel next week to the Johann Cruyff Arena hoping that David can knock out Goliath once more, albeit a very difficult task, but as Apoel’s coach said. ‘we can keep on dreaming’.

In the night’s other matches Slavia Prague beat CFR Cluj 1-0 as did Club Brugge over LASK.

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