APOEL Nicosia FC 4-2 NK Maribor (APOEL win 5-4 on aggregate)
Ten-man APOEL Nicosia FC came from behind against NK Maribor to book what will be an eagerly anticipated meeting with AEK Athens in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
On a great night for Cypriot football, APOEL beat the Slovenian champions 4-2 to squeeze through 5-4 on aggregate. Already hampered by the absence of their two foreign players, Orosco Anonam and Zaharin Sirakov, their hopes were hit further by the 38th-minute dismissal of Marios Agathocleous for a second yellow card for diving.
At that point the sides were level at 1-1, a Costas Malekkos penalty having cancelled out a spot-kick on 31 minutes from Maribor's Samir Duro. Yet APOEL's response could barely have been better, the spirited Cypriots making it 2-1 before the break as Stavros Georgiou found Marios Ilias unmarked in the area and he shot past goalkeeper Tomaz Murko.
Baskalakis heads fourth
Eleven minutes into the second half and it was three as Constantinous Charalambides shot into the right-hand corner from inside the area. Now leading on aggregate, APOEL extended their lead on 69 minutes when, from a fine cross by Malekkos, Demetris Baskalakis headed past Murko.
Maribor had their moments and after Nemanja Corovic had gone close with a header tipped over, Duro's low strike ensured a nervous last ten minutes in front of 10,564 fans in the GPS stadium.
Ten years on
However, APOEL hung on and can now look forward to their first meeting with AEK since the first round of the 1992/93 Champions League when the Greek team - who have a large following in Cyprus - were winners on the away-goals rule after following a 1-1 result in Athens with a 2-2 draw in the return.
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