Defender Zdeněk Pospěch's second-half goal earned FC København the narrowest of leads to take to Cyprus next week but APOEL FC, who ended with ten men, will have high hopes of turning the tie around on home turf next week.
After a cagey opening period with chances at a premium, the Danish hosts stepped up the tempo after the restart and were soon rewarded for their attacking impetus as the full-backs combined to make it 1-0, Pospěch heading in Oscar Wendt's cross. Only the woodwork denied Ailton Almeida a second though APOEL, despite the late dismissal of Altin Haxhi, could have restored parity but for Jesper Christiansen's save to deny Nuno Morais. The FCK goalkeeper may have more to do on Wednesday week.
The 16,260 spectators at the Parken Stadium turned out more in expectation than hope but having seen off Serbian giants FK Partizan in the third qualifying round, APOEL were always going to provide tough opponents. They swiftly set out their stall, allowing FCK to dominate possession so long as the ball was not in the final third. With the hosts reluctant to commit men forward it seldom made it there, but that changed after half-time as coach Ståle Solbakken loosened the shackles.
Within nine minutes of the restart København were ahead. Jesper Grønkjær sent Wendt clear on the overlap and the left-back's looping centre was emphatically powered home by Pospěch, ghosting in at the back post. Almeida went tantalisingly close to making it two midway through the half but his low effort struck the inside of the goalpost and rebounded to safety. APOEL then almost made FCK pay with Morais's late strike kept out by Christiansen. The Cypriot side, who lost Haxhi to a second yellow card in the 91st minute, must now look to reproduce their 2-0 home win over Partizan in the previous round – when, as now, they lost the away tie 1-0.