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APOEL's Manduca floors Porto late on

APOEL FC 2-1 FC Porto
A late Gustavo Manduca goal earned APOEL a dramatic win that leaves them on the brink of becoming the first Cypriot side to reach the last 16.

APOEL celebrate Aílton's opener
APOEL celebrate Aílton's opener ©Getty Images

APOEL FC are in a position of strength in UEFA Champions League Group G after Gustavo Manduca's last-minute strike snatched victory against FC Porto.

Nearly two years to the day after the Dragons won at the GSP Stadium, it was a case of roles reversed in Nicosia. Hulk's penalty 60 seconds from time cancelled out APOEL's lead, earned through Aílton's first-half spot kick, but in a dramatic twist Manduca swept in Constantinos Charalambides' pass.

It leaves Ivan Jovanović's side top of the section, with a four-point cushion over UEFA Europa League holders Porto, in third, with two games to play. They will become the first Cypriot side to reach the last 16 if they beat FC Zenit St Petersburg in three weeks.

A sell-out crowd had little reason for early cheer, however, with Porto's patient approach play quelling home enthusiasm. Drifting from his position on the left of a front three, Hulk was giving right-back Athos Solomou, on his first start in the competition, an examination as he sought to add to his opener in the 1-1 draw between the sides a fortnight ago.

One such foray from the Brazil striker – conspicuous by his new-look blond hair – ended with him bustling into the area and testing Urko Pardo at his near post.

Aílton cancelled out Hulk's effort on matchday three but was temporarily denied another by Helton's right-hand post, the forward having stooped to meet Manduca's looping cross from the left. Any lingering frustration soon evaporated, however.

Seeking to dart between Rolando and Eliaquim Mangala in the penalty box, Aílton's run was halted by the latter. From the spot, the No8 casually rolled in his seventh UEFA Champions League goal this term, qualifying included.

The visitors had done much of the probing in the first half but too often their final ball let them down. The start of the second period followed a similar pattern and Vítor Pereira had seen enough, introducing Colombian internationals Fredy Guarín and James Rodríguez in an attempt to spark a response.

Within minutes the industrious Hulk, having switched flanks, teed Fernando Belluschi for a shot which was blocked in the area. Hulk got the goal he deserved when James Rodríguez was felled by former SL Benfica midfielder Nuno Morais. Manduca had the last word, though, converting captain Charalambides's low cross in the 90th minute – it could prove a telling blow.

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