The Cyprus “El Classico” in Nicosia. APOEL vs Omonia. The two Nicosia clubs go head to head in the last game before the play-offs. Almost a sell out with both teams having their loyal supporters by their side to cheer them towards the win. It’s worth mentioning that a considerable number of journalists attended the game today in order to cover APOEL Tuesday’s Champions League game against Real Madrid.
APOEL started with more attacking terms but both teams were very well organized on the pitch and covered all sections of the field excellently. It was a slow start to the game with the ball flowing but all in midfield. APOEL did manage to get into the Omonia area but the “visiting” defense cleared easily. Omonia on the other hand tried to use its speed on the wings to counter attack.
A couple of yellow cards for either side with Boaventura and Aloneftis. First chance of the game came 25 minutes in the first half when Makrides won a corner and when executed Karipides got a great header but his shot was stopped by the crossbar. It was a great game after that with APOEL responding immediately with Marcinho who’s shot skipped the goal.
The game was getting a bit scrappy towards the end of the first half with lots of bad controls from both sides and a couple of rough challenges which cost Cherfa a yellow card. The rough game continued with Poursaitides getting a yellow and moments after Aloneftis caught Charalambides from behind to earn him self a second yellow and leave Omonia with 10 men for the entire second half. It’s worth mentioning that in the first round Omonia was leading 1-0 when they were again left with 10 men and went on to lose the game 3-1 in the second half. Replays show contact from Aloneftis and can justify the second yellow although others will say it was harsh. It will definitely be discussed further on in the next few days.
In the second half APOEL started with full attacking intentions trying to use the extra man they had on the pitch but Omonia was defending well and looked to counter attack. Ivan Jovanovic introduced Trickovski for Charalambides to add some freshness and speed to the game and Omonia responded with Christofi replacing Alves to add some speed up front for Omonia with Christofi attempting to hold the ball up front and let the Omonia defense rest as APOEL kept attacking.
A great game for Omonia to have Giorgalides back as he was Omonia’s guardian angel and was flawless. Seeing this Jovanovic decided to bring Solari on for Manduca to have two strikers up front for the last 25 minutes of the game. APOEL switching to a 4-4-2 which seems to work when they want to attack in derbies. Surprisingly though it was Omonia who seemed to improve and went on to try and get a goal but both teams seemed to have solid defenses. Last card from Jovanovic came with Alexandrou coming on for Boaventura who seemed tired.
In the last minutes of the game it was an edge of your seat game with both teams going for it but the ball just wouldn’t go in. Alexandrou came the closest directly from a corner but the ball was cleared off the line by Giorgallides. Bergougnoux came on in the dying seconds of the game to kill off some time and Omonia will be happy to get away with a point taking into consideration they played with 10 men for the entire second half. APOEL on the other hand had lots of chances but no goals.
Both sides not happy with the point which makes the play-offs more important. If AEL win this weekend will be the clear-cut favorites to win the league.