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AEL take big step towards Cyprus Cup semis

mar 1501
Substitute Ryan Mmaee scored twice, as AEL put one foot into the last four

AEL beat Salamina 2-0 in Limassol on Wednesday evening in the first leg of their Cyprus Cup quarter-final to take a massive advantage in the tie.

The first half ended up being goalless, although hardly devoid of opportunities, particularly by the away side. The first 35 minutes were all Salamina, with the Famagusta club hitting the crossbar two times.

The first incident saw Salamina’s biggest chance to open the scoring when match official Nicolas Neocleous awarded the visitors a penalty for a foul on Danilo Oliveira in the 27th minute. The penalty was also reviewed by VAR who advised Neocleous to confirm it through his pitchside monitor. Danilo took the penalty himself but hit the crossbar.

The second chance came just over five minutes later, again involving Danilo. The Salamina forward was released on the inside left channel, prompting AEL goalkeeper Josimar Vozinha to come out. Danilo scooped the ball over the onrushing Vozinha but the ball was cleared by AEL defender Christophe Psyché, with the ball hitting the crossbar from the defender’s clearance.

AEL then scored in the 43rd minute but the goal was chalked off as offside by the linesman, although the goal was also reviewed by VAR which confirmed that the linesman’s decision was the correct one.

Salamina had another great opportunity in the 59th minute when Dylan Duventru chested a high ball over Strahinja Kerkez but his finish was weak and allowed Kerkez to clear the ball inches away from the goalline.

AEL then had a chance of their own in the 63rd minute when a cleared ball landed in Sito Riera’s path. He volleyed the ball towards the net but it was parried away by Salamina goalkeeper Robert Veselovsky to give the home team a corner.

The resulting corner was taken short and resulted in AEL centre-back Strahinja Kerkez meeting a cross from Riera but the ball hit the crossbar to deny AEL a goal.

AEL finally managed to break the deadlock in the 73rd minute through substitute Ryan Mmaee who had been introduced only moments earlier. A cross from deep found Mmaee inside Salamina’s penalty area, with the AEL forward heading the ball into Veselovsky’s near post corner.

Mmaee scored his second in the 81st to make it 2-0 for AEL and give the Limassol club a major advantage in the tie. Mmaee received the ball from Danilo at the shoulder of Salamina’s defensive line, evaded the onrushing Veselovsky and finished from close range into an empty net.

A second quarter-final first leg kicked-off later on Wednesday, with Ethnikos and Olympiakos playing out a 1-1 draw.

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