Anorthosis Famagusta FC 1-0 FC Dinamo Minsk (agg: 2-1) Constandinos Samaras gives Cypriot champions victory.
By John Leonidou at GSP stadium
Cypriot champions Anorthosis Famagusta FC scraped into the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round with a 70th-minute goal by Constandinos Samaras to finally see off Belarussian title-holders FC Dinamo Minsk.
After both sides had missed a host of opportunities, the 21-year-old scrambled the ball home with the game nearing its conclusion. Dinamo had their chances to take the tie into extra-time but failed to do so as Temur Ketsbaia's side set up a meeting with Turkish outfit Trabzonspor next week.
While Samaras will take the plaudits, Anorthosis were equally indebted to goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides who was at his best to deny Dinamo, and in particular, the impressive Leonid Kovel. The 18-year-old striker was twice denied by superb first-half saves as the visitors attempted to wrest the initiative from home side.
The Nicosia outfit earned a 1-1 draw in Minsk last week, Nikos Frousos's away goal earning them a slight advantage. German midfield player Marko Haber almost strengthened that midway through the opening period but his shot flashed over the crossbar.
But it was the fitter Dinamo that were edging proceedings, with two more chances falling to Kovel after the restart, but both whistled past the post. And the visitors were made to pay for their profligacy with 20 minutes remaining when Nikos Nikolaou's free-kick was headed across goal by Klimenti Tsitaishvili where Samaras tapped home.
Tsitaishvili almost doubled the lead minutes after but saw his over-head kick punched clear by goalkeeper Artur Lesko. Player-coach Ketsbaia spurned another opportunity shortly afterwards in a frantic spell before Dinamo fought back in search of the goal which would take the tie to extra time.
'Pleased to qualify'
It was not forthcoming though as Anorthosis held on to the obvious delight - and relief - of Ketsbaia. "I'm delighted," the former Newcastle United FC and AEK Athens FC winger said. "Dinamo were more match fit and although I'm a little disappointed we missed some chances, overall I'm just pleased to qualify." His team are home again next week.