AEL Limassol FC have ended their 44-year wait for a title after edging a 1-0 victory against Anorthosis Famagusta FC to move five points clear of APOEL FC and AC Omonia with one game remaining.
Pambos Christodoulou's charges were firm favourites heading into Saturday's end-of-season play-offs and they put the league title beyond doubt 22 minutes from time when Luciano Bebê played a neat one-two with Patrick Vouho before beating goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik with a precise finish.
Ivan Jovanović's APOEL, who took European football by storm this season by reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, were unable to translate that same form to the domestic stage and suffered their sixth defeat of the season by losing 2-1 against Omonia.
Andreas Avraam had given Omonia the lead on 22 minutes before Aílton pounced on an error by Christos Karpidis to restore parity before half-time. Former APOEL player Konstantinos Makrides teed up Demetris Christofi for a simple finish with ten minutes remaining, however, and APOEL's misery was complete in added time when Nuno Morais was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The defeat meant AEL could celebrate only their seventh league title win and their first major trophy since lifting the Cypriot Cup in 1989. The streets of Limassol erupted into celebration and parties were expected to go long into the night.
AEL, who are also on course for a unique double as they meet Omonia in the Cypriot Cup final on 16 May, will represent the island in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round in July, while APOEL, Omonia and Anorthosis will kick off UEFA Europa League campaigns in the same month.
AEL chairman, Andreas Sofocleous, said: "This is truly a unique moment for all of us. We are deservedly champions as we proved we had the strongest and most consistent team in the championship. We worked hard, from the players to the coaching staff to the board. Our fans have been brilliant. I saw an older fan in tears – he last saw AEL celebrate the title back in 1968. AEL are a great side and now our attentions turn towards the Cup final – we want the double."
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