A goal 30 seconds from time ended APOEL Nicosia FC's resistance in Cyprus and put Hertha BSC Berlin firmly on course for the third round of the UEFA Cup.
The 1. Bundesliga visitors dominated possession throughout but had to wait until two minutes into added time to reap their reward, substitute Bartosz Karwan silencing the majority of the 4,178 crowd at the GSP stadium in Nicosia. "We never stopped believing and didn't quit trying," said Hertha captain Stefan Beinlich. "We won and that's the main thing."
Play lacked zest
Despite enjoying home advantage, APOEL's play lacked the zest which had seen them eliminate Grazer AK, NK Maribor and FC Flora from European competition this season. The absence of Kostakkis Malekkos and Georgos Vakouftsis showed as Marcelinho and Bienlich stylishly patrolled the pitch and caused APOEL countless problems. Michalis Morfis in the home goal denied both players the opening goal with superb first-half saves.
APOEL showed more invention after the break yet Hertha remained more cutting and created a number of chances. In the 58th minute Bienlich beat Morfis with a header but could only look on disbelievingly as the ball ricocheted to safety off the bar. Belgian international Bart Goor and Fábio Brito were then presented with excellent openings but Morfis was proving a formidable obstabce.
For their part, APOEL created a couple of late chances. Youngster Nektarios Alexandro volleyed over when well placed before Gábor Kiraly in the Hertha goal produced a smart stop from Marios Agathocleous. Hertha, though, deservedly had the final say, Polish international Karwan nipping in ahead of Morfis to a Michael Hartmann centre. Within a minute referee Dermot Gallacher blew the final whistle on the game - and perhaps APOEL's dreams of reaching round three.
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