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Second-half strikes give APOEL the upper hand

KS Skënderbeu0-2 APOEL FC
Two goals in four second-half minutes gave Cypriot champions APOEL FC a 2-0 victory against the Albanian titleholders in Korca.

Nuno Morais scored the opening goal in APOEL's 2-0 victory against Skënderbeu
Nuno Morais scored the opening goal in APOEL's 2-0 victory against Skënderbeu ©Getty Images

Cypriot champions APOEL FC ran out 2-0 winners in their second qualifying round first leg match against KS Skënderbeu.

With both sides lacking a cutting edge in attack it was APOEL who made the most of their limited opportunities, going ahead through Nuno Morais seven minutes after the break and doubling their lead four minutes later via Gustavo Manduca.

Skënderbeu, Albania's oldest club, started the match on the front foot, Marco dos Santos forcing a fine save from APOEL's Dionisios Chiotis inside the opening seven minutes. For all their early pressure, however, Skënderbeu failed to find a way past the 34-year-old. With the scores level at half-time it was the visitors who began to dominate after the break, Morais latching on to Esteban Solari's fine pass to give Ivan Jovanovič's side the advantage.

Four minutes later, Manduca unleashed an unstoppable drive from 30 metres to double APOEL's lead, which they will defend for a place in the third qualifying round in Nicosia next week.