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Omonia edge past Ararat in Armenia to advance

Omonia could face Olympiacos Piraeus should they beat Red Star Belgrade
Omonia players celebrate a goal

Omonia scraped through to the second qualifying round of the Champions League after defeating Armenian Ararat in Yerevan thanks to a goal by Tiago in the fourth minute of extra time in a poor and dull game.

It took either side almost half an hour to create a worthwhile chance and this fell to Ararat’s Gouffran but his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by a defender with Omonia keeper Fabiano well beaten.

This lifted the Armenian side and a minute later Fabiano had to be alert to block Lopes’ dangerous strike.
Two minutes before the break Ararat had another excellent chance to take the lead but Oubanjo’s clever backheel went the wrong side of the post.

Omonia’s only chance of the opening half came in the 43rd minute and this after Ararat goalkeeper Čupić took too long to clear the ball and was charged down by rookie striker Kakoulis, but the rebound went behind for a goal-kick to spare the goalkeepers blushes.

Whatever Omonia coach Henning Berg told his players at half time it worked, as it was the Nicosia team who took control of the game and had the lion’s share of possession in the second half.

But despite their domination they had just one chance to show for it and this came early in the period but their recent signing from Anorthosis Michal Duris fluffed his shot from close range allowing Čupić to parry it away.

Omonia did have a scare at the other end in a rare Ararat attack but Odubanjos’ shot was deflected wide for a corner.

It was to be expected that extra time would take its toll on the players and Omonia managed to break the deadlock in the 94th minute after Tiago raced through unchallenged following Bauteac’s pass to put his side ahead.

A few minutes later Ararat were left with 10 men after Humanes received his marching orders after picking up his second yellow card, but this seemed to galvanise the Armenian team, who could have equalised in the 110th minute but Fabiano was again saved by an outstretched boot of Hubočan.

In the second half of extra time though Omonia controlled play and were rarely troubled by the tired 10-man Armenian side.

Omonia will now face Legia Warsaw in Poland next Wednesday in the second qualifying round and if they are to stand any chance of progressing, Berg’s side will need to improve considerably.

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