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Another fine night for Cyprus

Southern round-up: A fine week for Cyprus in European competition continued as AC Omonia won 1-0 at AEK Athens FC and APOEL FC held FK Crvena Zvezda 2-2.

Litex and Ironi Kiryat played out a 0-0 draw in Bulgaria
Litex and Ironi Kiryat played out a 0-0 draw in Bulgaria ©Meridian Match

A fine week for Cyprus in European competition continued tonight as AC Omonia won at AEK Athens FC and APOEL FC held former European champions FK Crvena Zvezda in their UEFA Cup second qualifying round first legs. Elsewhere Lothar Matthaüs missed out on his first victory in charge of Maccabi Netanya FC coach as all three Israeli entrants drew. rounds up the action from the southern section of the draw, with the second legs taking place in a fortnight's time.

AEK Athens FC 0-1 AC Omonia
One day after Anorthosis Famagusta FC defeated Panathinaikos FC 3-0 in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg, another Cypriot side got the better of Athenian opposition. A 40th-minute goal from Cape Verde international Cafú put Omonia ahead and in added time he had a further effort cleared off the line via the woodwork.

APOEL FC 2-2 FK Crvena Zvezda
Crvena Zvezda claimed a draw in Cyprus thanks to Igor Burzanović's equaliser just past the hour. The Serbian visitors went in front on nine minutes when APOEL defender Joost Broerse only half-cleared a cross from Nenad Milijaš and Brazilian striker Edgar was on hand to beat goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis. Broerse made up for that slip with a 34th-minute 25-metre free-kick that he curled into the top left-hand corner. APOEL nearly had a half-time lead but Saša Radivojević stopped two long-range Konstantinos Charalampidis efforts and new signing Marcin Żewłakow hit the side-netting. However, the second half was two minutes old when Kamil Kosowski broke free on the right and fed Polish compatriot Żewłakow to beat Radivojević from close range, but Burzanović claimed Crvena Zvezda's second away goal from distance and APOEL were unable to beat a stubborn opposition defence again.

Aris Thessaloniki FC 1-0 NK Slaven Koprivnica
Aris ensured some Greek celebrations tonight as they edged ahead of their Croatian visitors. Sergio Koke claimed the goal early in the second half as Aris continued their quest to return to the group stage having only been denied progress from that round last year by a Matchday 5 defeat at FC Bayern München.

NK Široki Brijeg 1-2 Beşiktaş JK
Beşiktaş may have missed out on the UEFA Champions League this season but have made a good start to their UEFA Cup campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Matías Delgado put the Turkish side ahead in the first half and the lead was doubled in the 83rd minute by Márcio Nobre. Dalibor Šilić scored in added time, but Široki Brijeg have it all to do in Istanbul.

SC Braga 1-0 NK Zrinjski
UEFA Intertoto Cup winners Braga, aiming for a third straight UEFA Cup group stage campaign, were made to work for victory by their visitors from Bosnia-Herzegovina. After Albert Meyong Zé missed twice in the opening stages of his competitive debut for the Portuguese team, the visitors went close with a Matija Matko header and the striker forced Eduardo to save late in the first half. Early in the second period Roland Linz's bicycle kick was kept out by Igor Melher but the Zrinjski goalkeeper was beaten by the Austrian international in the 67th-minute, Linz tidying up the loose ball following a save.

FK Borac 1-0 PFC Lokomotiv Sofia
Bojan Pavlović scored two minutes into the second half to give the Serbian side the edge over their Bulgarian visitors. Having won their debut European tie against FC Dacia Chişinău in the first qualifying round, Borac nearly fell behind before the break today when Zoran Baldovaliev shot over the bar while at the other end Miloš Stojcev missed the target. But Pavlović made no mistake when left in space in the area and Lokomotiv were denied any more clear-cut chances.

Maccabi Netanya FC 1-1 PFC Cherno More Varna
Alexandar Alexandrov struck four minutes before half-time to give Cherno More an away goal for the return in Sofia. The Israeli side failed to score on their UEFA Cup debut last year but that duck was broken 27 minutes in when Cameroon-born striker Francis Kioyo intercepted Nikola Domakinov's clearance and side-footed in. However, the Bulgarian visitors equalised when their No10 made the most of space in the home box with a spectacular finish. Cherno More goalkeeper Karamfil Ilchev saved Samudu Awudu's fierce drive and from the resulting corner Bevan Fransman's header rattled the crossbar. Matthaüs brought on Barukh Dego and with ten minutes left the substitute produced a pin-point cross to Awudu but the striker's header dropped on to the roof of the net.

PFC Litex Lovech 0-0 Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC
In the other Bulgarian-Israeli encounter, all is still to be settled in a fortnight's time in Haifa. Kiryat Shmona's Yoval Avidor and Litex's Brazilian midfielder Sandrinho both had half-chances in the first period and although home coach Stanimir Stoilov sent on forwards Eduardo Santos and Krum Bibishkov after the break, giving his team the upper hand, the visitors withstood the pressure.

FK Vojvodina 0-0 Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC
Hapoel returned from Novi Sad with their hopes of a third straight group stage campaign intact. The Serbian side piled on the pressure but found Hapoel's Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in inspired form, making a fingertip save from Vladimir Vukajilović after just two minutes and then tipping a shot from the striker over the bar. At the other end Aleksandar Kesić used his feet to stop Eraj Zahav's effort for the Israeli visitors, but Vojvodina were denied again midway through the second half when Aleksandar Popović sent his shot just past the post.