A superb late goal from Demetrios Daskalakis took APOEL Nicosia FC into the second round of the UEFA Cup tonight after an impressive defensive display earned them a 1-1 draw and left hosts Grazer AK unable to overturn the 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
With five minutes to go, Daskalakis charged through the wrong-footed Grazer defence to power a header past goalkeeper Andreas Schanz from five metres. It was no less than the Cypriot side deserved for a spirited performance in Graz.
Grazer had taken the game to APOEL throughout, but lacked the finish to worry their opponents as the Cypriot side held a firm line on the edge of their penalty area. The Austrian side dominated possession but, all too often, the final ball was lacking.
Off the post
On a rare break forward, APOEL almost stole the lead in the 27th minute when Marios Agathocleous headed against the post with Schanz beaten.
Hope for Grazer
The visitors' only real lapse of the evening came a minute before half-time as Anton Dmitrovic's high ball into the centre of the APOEL penalty area found Anton Ehmann for once completely unmarked to head his side into the lead on the night.
Brunmayer hits the bar
The goal clearly filled the Austrian side with confidence and they began the second half at a canter but Dmitrovic, Gernot Sick and Mario Tokic were all guilty of missing good opportunities. Ronald Brunmayr thundered a 25-metre free-kick against the APOEL crossbar 19 minutes into the second period, but it was to be the nearest they got to an equaliser in the tie.
As the clock ticked down, Grazer increasingly resorted to pumping long balls towards strikers Brunmayr and Mario Bazina but to no avail, and at the final whistle, APOEL celebrated a famous victory and a well-deserved place in the second round.