APOEL FC stood firm for 87 minutes to claim a famous victory and a place in the UEFA Champions League play-off round after a third-minute strike by Almani Moreira had hauled Serbian champions FK Partizan within one goal of taking the tie to extra time.
The Cypriot titleholders arrived from Nicosia with a 2-0 success under their belts from the first leg but that advantage appeared in danger of being wiped out early on when Moreira converted Goran Gavrančić's pass from close range. Yet despite the fervent support of 25,000 Partizan fans the visitors held on, even after a late red card for Joost Broerse.
Broerse had come closest to calming the nerves in Ivan Jovanović's ranks, first with an opening-minute free-kick, then when he latched on to Nenad Mirosavljević's pass just shy of the half-hour mark only to shoot wide of goal with goalkeeper Mladen Božović rooted to the spot. An even better opportunity was passed up on the stroke of the interval when a mistake by Gavrančić let in first-leg goalscorer Marcin Żewłakow but he failed to test Božović in a one-on-one situation.
Partizan reclaimed the initiative after the restart but Moreira failed to claim a second goal when sending a headed effort wide. With 89 minutes on the clock, Broerse was sent off after collecting a second yellow card for a foul on Lamine Diarra but it was too late for Partizan to take advantage. Radosav Petrović headed their last effort wide from ten metres and APOEL were able to celebrate a second notable victory over Serbian opposition in as many years, having eliminated FK Crvena Zvezda in last season's UEFA Cup second qualifying round.
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