KIEV - Surprise package APOEL Nicosia
battled to a gutsy 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk at the Donbas
Arena on Wednesday to move a point clear at the top of Champions
League Group G.
APOEL took the lead against the run of play when striker
Ivan Trickovski stunned the home side by finishing off a rare
counter attack in the 61st minute.
Shakhtar, who missed a hatful of chances throughout the
game, were level within three minutes when Jadson guided the
ball into the net after taking advantage of a poor clearance.
The result means APOEL lead the group with four points from
two games while Zenit St Petersburg, who beat Porto 3-1, and the
Portuguese have three points each with Shakhtar on one.
"We will put the group standings into a frame because it is
really surprising," said APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic. "It's an
honour to play with teams like Porto, Zenit and Shakhtar among
which we are the youngest.
"But our aim is the same. We play with soul and heart and
write a new page in the history of our club."
Shakhtar, who reached the quarter-finals last season before
being thrashed by eventual champions Barcelona, came into the
game full of confidence and pinned APOEL in their own half.
However, Mircea Lucescu's side struggled to break down a
well-organised Cypriot defence although they went close to
opening the scoring five minutes before the break.
Luiz Adriano's strike from the edge of the area was heading
goalwards but was deflected over the bar by a defender following
a low cross from Dario Srna.
Moments earlier Henrik Mkhitaryan was denied by visiting
keeper Dionisios Chiotis when the Armenian midfielder raced into
the area but shot weakly after Luiz Adriano's pull-back.
"We should have had a cooler head in the final phase of the
goal attempts," said Shakhtar coach Lucescu. "Their goalkeeper
was very confident and produced a few brilliant saves. Should we
perform like today we can beat Zenit and Porto."
A sleepy first half turned into an entertaining affair after
the interval with APOEL spicing things up.
The visitors, who rarely troubled a home defence missing
suspended key central defenders Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Yaroslav
Rakytskiy after both were sent off in the Ukrainian side's
opening 2-1 defeat at Porto, suddenly broke the deadlock.
Trickovski exchanged passes with Constantinos Charalambides,
who came off the bench after just three minutes to replace the
injured Gustavo Manduca, squeezed into the box and slotted a low
shot into the far corner of the net.
APOEL's joy was short-lived with Brazilian Jadson finding
the equaliser after compatriot Willian broke down the right and
sent over a deflected cross that caused panic in the defence.
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