Cyprus battled back from 2-0 down to end their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying campaign on a high note with this battling draw.
Group 1 runners-up Slovenia looked destined to entirely overwhelm their hosts in the first half, taking the lead after eleven minutes when Cyprus goalkeeper Nikos Panayiotou could only parry Miran Pavlin's shot into the path of Ermin Šiljak, who was left with a simple finish.
Cyprus tried to gain control in midfield but disappointing passing and numerous offside decisions ruined their flow and Slovenia were able to double their lead four minutes before the interval. Muamer Vugdalic's pass found Šiljak unmarked in the area and he beat Panayiotou with a fierce volley from close range.
However, Cyprus came out determined to make an impression in the second half and managed to reduce the deficit in the 71st minute. A deep cross from Yiasoumis Yiasoumi left Slovenia goalkeeper Marko Simeunovic stranded and Stavros Georgiou collected the ball and virtually walked it into the net.
The home side equalised with nine minutes remaining when a corner was the cue for a goalmouth scramble, Yiasoumi emerging to score from close range. Indeed, Cyprus almost won the game as Georgiou failed to make the right connection on a cross from Elias Charalambous late on.
"My players didn't play very well in the first half but made up for it in the second with a battling display which earned us a draw," said Cyprus coach Momcilo Vukotic, whose side finished fourth in the five-team group. "
I was very pleased with my team's first-half performance but a couple of injuries forced me to make substitutions and changed my plans," said Slovenia's Bojan Prašnikar. "As a result Cyprus equalised."