APOEL FC made home advantage count as Argentine Tomás De Vincenti inspired the hosts to an assured victory over HJK Helsinki which secured a UEFA Champions League play-off spot.
The Cypriot champions secured victory as a 17th-minute strike from Irish forward Cillian Sheridan and a converted penalty by De Vincenti just before half-time proved too much for the Finnish champions to overcome.
Giorgos Donis's home side started brightly and threatened from distance twice in the first ten minutes. The game's opening goal came when De Vincenti won possession in midfield and quickly released Sheridan who showed great composure in slotting the ball past Michael Tørnes in the HJK goal. The visitors nearly struck back when a Demba Savage cross caused confusion in the APOEL box but defender Carlão recovered well to clear the danger. The dangerous De Vincenti then doubled his side's lead when he was caught by a high foot in the area and converted the penalty himself.
APOEL continued to press in the second half and were unlucky not to add to their lead through Vinicius, the midfielder seeing his thunderous effort from outside the box rebound off the bar just after the hour mark. Ten minutes later APOEL were again denied as a deflected block hung in the air long enough for Vinicius to produce an audacious overhead kick only for the bar to again come to the away side's rescue. The hosts were happy to play down the clock as HJK struggled to convert possession into any substantial goal threat.
APOEL now advance to the play-off stage of the competition as HJK join the UEFA Europa League at its play-off phase.
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