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Omonia AC secured a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against Polish champions Wisla Kraków after a hard-fought victory against FC Irtysh Pavlodar.
After a goalless first leg in Nicosia last week, Kazakhstani title-holders Irtysh looked to have every chance of making home advantage tell this evening. Their fans' optimism grew when Irtysh took the lead on 21 minutes through Muslim Agayev. However, they were pegged back by Rainer Rauffmann just after the hour and their dreams were finally dashed when Nikos Georgiou hit the winner deep into added time.
Irtysh could have taken the lead inside the first minute through Farkhadbek Irismetov, but his powerful shot went wide of the post. Agayev then connected with an excellent header only to also miss the target, prompting fears that it was not to be the home side's night.
The breakthrough finally came on 21 minutes, when Agayev latched on to a pass from Irismetov, beat a defender, and sent the ball past Omonia goalkeeper Nikolaos Michopoulos from the corner of the penalty area. Buoyed by the goal, Irtysh kept pouring forward with Omonia seemingly in danger of letting the tie slip from their grasp.
Andrey Kucheryavykh was the next to try his luck for Irtysh, lashing a 25-metre shot goalwards which Michopoulos did well to block. Agayev pounced on the rebound and fed Rustam Usmanov, but he spurned the chance. Kucheryavykh soon went close again but the half finished with the first real chance for Omonia. Jozef Kozlej found himself on the end of a well-worked move but could not apply the finishing touch.
The second half saw a brighter performance from Omonia, who are hoping to surpass the achievements of fellow Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia FC, who reached the third qualifying round last season. Kozlej showed great vision in the 61st minute and sent a through-ball into Rauffmann's path that left him with just the goalkeeper to beat. The striker made no mistake for a vital away goal that left his side on top in the tie.
With Irtysh looking for a second, Georgiou took advantage in the fifth minute of added time. As the Kazakhstani side pushed forward, Georgiou burst clear at the other end to seal the match in his side's favour.
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