APOEL FC defeated Nicosia rivals and titleholders AC Omonia 2-0 on Sunday to secure their 21st Cypriot championship with four games left to go in the end-of-season play-offs.
Needing just a point to reclaim the championship and move back ahead of Omonia as the league's most-titled club, APOEL put the contest beyond doubt before the interval courtesy of two goals from Constantinos Charalambides. The Cypriot international scored from a free-kick on 41 minutes and added his second in first-half stoppage time courtesy of a clever assist from Gustavo Manduca, who had earlier seen a penalty saved by Antonis Georgallides.
The win lifted APOEL 15 points clear of second-placed Omonia, who Ivan Jovanović's side have beaten three times in the league this season without conceding a goal. APOEL will enter the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round, aiming to reach the group stage as they did last season.
"I am a very happy man right now," said Charalambides, also named man of the match. "It's a great feeling to win this title and I am very emotional right now. For me the man of the match was the entire team and our supporters.
"We deserved this title; I don't believe anyone could say otherwise. APOEL showed this season that our strength is our unity and the fact that we all play for each other. It is not about one single player."
Victory secure, APOEL chairman Fivos Erotokritou laid down his club's next targets. "I always believed that we would win this title because I believed in our coach and the quality of our players," he said.
"With that target now achieved, we will now look towards our next target which is to strengthen our squad in the summer because we want a good European campaign in the group stage of the Champions League. It is obviously a hard target but it is something that we have achieved before and something which we have set our sights on again."
Omonia will now look towards the Cyprus Cup for success after they eliminated second division side Aris Limassol FC last week to make it into the semi-finals, where they will meet either third-placed Anorthosis Famagusta FC, Apollon Limassol FC or Ethnikos Achnas FC.
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