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FC Flora Tallinn 0-0 APOEL Nicosia FC
APOEL Nicosia FC held FC Flora Tallinn to a scoreless draw in the Estonian capital.
The hosts were caught by surprise as APOEL fought hard in the early stages, creating several dangerous chances. Unmarked Barnabas Sztipanovics was disappointed to miss when presented with a clear shot inside the penalty area on 18 minutes.
Flora's midfield play lacked imagination, but after the half-hour mark the Estonians moved up a gear. Raio Piiroja's header flew just wide on 34 minutes, and Meelis Rooba hit a brilliant first-time effort a few moments later only for it to sail narrowly over the bar.
The closing stages of the first half were fiery, with a group of APOEL players involved in a scuffle after referee Tommy Skjerven waved the game on following Cypriot appeals for a penalty. Two bookings cooled the visitors just before the half-time whistle.
On the hour, Tor Henning Hamre and Taavi Rähn made Michael Morphis stretch with successive efforts on goal. But Flora's best chance came a minute later, when Aleksandr Kulik's excellent header went inches wide of Morphis' goal.
APOEL responded well with their outstanding playmaker Kostas Malekkos creating a chance for Sztipanovics - although, again, the Hungarian finished wastefully. In the later stages, the Cypriots were tense as Flora striker Joel Lindpere failed to find the target on three separate occasions.
'Too much respect'
"We've had a very nervous start, and [showed] too much respect for our opponents," said Flora coach Arnpo Pijpers. "It was a good game to watch, despite the fact no goals were scored, and I think the result was fair." Meanwhile APOEL coach Egen Gerard was also content. "We've had good chances early in the game," he said. "We have only trained for five weeks so far, so we weren't fit enough to play the whole game."
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