APOEL FC resisted a fierce second-half onslaught by FC København to overturn a first-leg deficit with a 3-1 win and qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time.
Trailing 1-0 coming into the game, Kamil Kosowski's second-minute opener and a Chrysostomos Michail penalty had turned the tie on its head inside 18 minutes. Dame N'Doye quickly responded to put København back in the driving seat, but Michail's second in the 41st minute handed the overall lead back to APOEL, and Ivan Jovanović's team repelled further advances to squeeze through.
If APOEL were aware history was against them – only once in 21 previous European ties had they lost the first leg and progressed – they did not act like it in the opening stages and tore into their visitors. A spell of unremitting early pressure brought its reward when Konstantinos Charalambides played a clever angled ball into the path of Kosowski, who chested it down and rifled in. The hosts did not let up and in the 18th minute, København's goalscoring hero from the first leg, Zdeněk Pospěch, brought down Marios Elia as he burst into the area. Michail stepped up to send Jesper Christiansen the wrong way.
The home side were exuding confidence now, but the mood changed abruptly when Oscar Wendt drilled in a low cross, which squirmed to the back post where N'Doye was on hand to nod in. Suddenly it was København on the front foot as Ailton Almeida, until then a passenger, began to terrorise the APOEL back line. The striker embarked on several dangerous runs and then forced home goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis into a finger-tip save from a fierce drive.
However, in a seesaw encounter APOEL regained the initiative before the break. Charalambides was again the provider, whipping in a cross which Michail stooped low to head in. Back came the Danish champions with Zanka Jørgensen having a header cleared off the line and if the hosts started the first half on top, it was all København after the restart. Ståle Solbakken brought on Jesper Grønkjær and the experienced international winger made an immediate impact, first setting up William Kvist before having a shot himself, both efforts superbly saved by Chiotis.
FCK were camped inside the hosts' half and Grønkjær, Ailton and Pospěch all went close as the pressure increased. APOEL rarely threatened, or even saw any of the ball, but were protecting their advantage with some desperate defending. Grønkjær's header flew over as the game entered the final minutes, but the hosts did enough to hang on and a year after Anorthosis Famagusta FC became the first Cypriot side to make the group stage, APOEL become the second.
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