A goalless first game has left the tie in the balance as 2019 semi-finalists Ajax welcome APOEL to Amsterdam.
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Last season's UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Ajax held out for a draw at APOEL and must now finish the job in Amsterdam as they look to earn a group return.
• Ajax lost Noussair Mazraoui to a second yellow card ten minutes from time in the first leg but managed to hold on for a goalless draw, Andrija Pavlović hitting the crossbar for an APOEL side who are bidding to come through qualifying to reach the competition proper for the fifth time.
• Both teams survived tense ties in the third qualifying round to reach the play-offs, a round where both APOEL and Ajax have suffered disappointment in recent years.
• This is the teams' fourth match, after they were paired together in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage. Following a 1-1 draw in Nicosia in which Lucas Andersen's 28th-minute opener for Ajax was cancelled out by a Gustavo Manduca penalty three minutes later, the Dutch club were 4-0 winners in the Netherlands on matchday six, Lasse Schöne scoring twice and Davy Klaassen and Arkadiusz Milik once each.
• That matchday six success meant Ajax finished third in Group F with five points, four more than APOEL, and went on to the UEFA Europa League, where they were eliminated in the round of 16.
• Joël Veltman played 90 minutes in both those matches for Ajax, while Giorgos Efrem featured in both for APOEL, with Tomás De Vincenti coming on as a substitute in Cyprus and Stathis Aloneftis doing likewise in Amsterdam.
• Ajax went all the way from the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round to the semi-finals in 2018/19, losing on away goals to Tottenham in the last four after conceding six minutes into added time to go down 3-2 at home and bow out after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
• Erik ten Hag's team lost only two of their 18 European matches in 2018/19 (W10 D6), when they became the first side in European Cup history to reach the semi-finals having come through three qualifying rounds and the first Dutch club to get to the UEFA Champions League last four since PSV Eindhoven in 2004/05.
• Ajax's record in UEFA Champions League play-offs is W2 L1 – both victories coming against Dynamo Kyiv, in 2010/11 (1-1 a, 2-1 h) and last season (3-1 h, 0-0 a). They lost at this stage to Rostov in 2016/17 (1-1 h, 1-4 a).
• Champions of the Netherlands for the 34th time in 2018/19 – their first league title since 2014 – Ajax also lifted the Dutch Cup to claim their eighth domestic double, and a first since 2002.
• They kicked off this season's UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round, seeing off Greek side PAOK 5-4 on aggregate after a 2-2 away draw and a 3-2 home win secured by an 85th-minute Dušan Tadić penalty. The second-leg victory in Amsterdam ended a run of four home European matches without a win (D2 L2).
• The first leg of this tie ended Ajax's run of scoring in 14 successive European matches. The last time they failed to score was also in a goalless draw in the away leg of last season's UEFA Champions League play-off, against Dynamo Kyiv; they have found the net in each of their last ten home European fixtures.
• The Amsterdammers have now won four of their seven matches against Cypriot clubs (D2 L1), including all three in Amsterdam where they have scored 16 goals and conceded none.
• The PAOK tie in this season's third qualifying round was the 22nd in UEFA competition in which Ajax drew the away first leg; they have won 18 of those – though lost two of the last five. When the first away leg has ended scoreless, Ajax's aggregate record is W6 L1, the victories including two in their 1994/95 UEFA Champions League triumph – against Hajduk Split (3-0 h) and Bayern München (5-2 h) – and their record UEFA win, 14-0 against Red Boys Differdange in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup first round.
• Ajax's record in six UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L5:
3-5 v Levski Sofia, 1975/76 UEFA Cup third round
0-3 v Juventus, 1977/78 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final
2-4 v Bohemians Praha, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round
4-3 v Grêmio, 1995 European/South American Cup
2-4 v Juventus, 1995/96 UEFA Champions League final
2-4 v Steaua Bucureşti, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32
• Champions of Cyprus for a record 28th time in 2018/19 – their seventh successive league title – APOEL are bidding to reach the group stage for the fifth time, and the second in three years.
• APOEL's best UEFA Champions League campaign came in 2011/12, when they topped their group and reached the quarter-finals before losing to Real Madrid. On their three other group appearances – in 2009/10, 2014/15 and 2017/18 – they finished fourth in their section.
• Last season they lost to Sūduva in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League; they went on to reach the UEFA Europa League play-offs before losing to Astana of Kazakhstan on penalties. It was the first time APOEL had failed to reach either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League group stage since 2012/13.
• This season, APOEL overcame Montenegro's Sutjeska 4-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round (1-0 a, 3-0 h) before a 3-2 comeback victory against Qarabağ of Azerbaijan in the third qualifying round; they parted company with title-winning coach Paolo Tramezzani after a 2-1 home first-leg defeat and appointed in his place Thomas Doll, who steered them to the 2-0 away victory in his first game in charge.
• APOEL have therefore won both away matches in this season's UEFA Champions League, after a run of nine European away games without a victory (D3 L6), and are yet to concede on their travels.
• APOEL's record in UEFA Champions League play-off ties is W4 L2, although they have lost two of their last three. Most recently, they overcame Slavia Praha 2-0 on aggregate at this stage in 2017/18 (2-0 h, 0-0 a).
• Their three meetings with Ajax are APOEL's only previous contests against a Dutch club.
• APOEL have won only three of their 12 UEFA ties in which they were held at home in the first leg, although that does include three of the last four, the most recent against Vardar in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round (0-0 h, 1-1 a). That is one of four previous occasions in which APOEL have drawn 0-0 at home in the first game; their aggregate record is W2 L2 with wins in the two most recent.
• APOEL's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L1:
4-3 v Lyon, 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16
1-2 v Astana, 2018/19 UEFA Europa League play-off
Links and trivia
• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored twice at the GSP Stadium in Schalke's 3-0 UEFA Europa League group win at APOEL in September 2015. Dutchman Boy Waterman was in goal for the home side, who had De Vicenti sent off late on.
• Waterman came through the Ajax youth system, although he never played for the first team. He represented Heerenveen (2001–07), AZ Alkmaar (2007–08), Den Haag (2008–10), De Graafschap (2010/11) and PSV Eindhoven (2012/13) in the Netherlands.
• APOEL's Reza Ghoochannejhad, who has joint Iranian and Dutch nationality, played for Heerenveen (2005–09, 2016–18), Go Ahead Eagles (2006/07, 2009/10), Emmen (2009) and Cambuur (2010/11) in the Netherlands.
• Have also played in the Netherlands:
Uroš Matić (NAC Breda 2014–16)
André Vidigal (Fortuna Sittard 2017–19)
• Have played together:
Siem de Jong & Reza Ghoochannejhad (Sydney FC 2019)
Perr Schuurs & André Vidigal (Fortuna Sittard 2017/18)
• Ajax technical director Edwin van der Sar was in the Netherlands side that beat Cyprus 4-0 in Nicosia in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in October 2000; Demetris Ioannou, father of current APOEL defender Nicholas, was in the home line-up.