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Maccabi Tel-Aviv pay penalty as APOEL share spoils

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC 0-0 APOEL FC
Urko Pardo saved Barak Itzhaki's 95th-minute spot kick as the Cypriot champions earned a hard-earned point in sultry Israel.

APOEL's Stathis Aloneftis holds off the challenge of Eytan Tibi
APOEL's Stathis Aloneftis holds off the challenge of Eytan Tibi ©AFP/Getty Images

Urko Pardo saved Barak Itzhaki's 95th-minute penalty as APOEL FC earned Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC a share of the Group F spoils in Israel.

Substitute Itzhaki was presented with a gilt-edge chance in the last seconds of a fractious encounter when João Guilherme brought down Eran Zahavi. He hit the ball cleanly enough from the spot, but Pardo, alert all evening, guessed right to push the ball past the post.

It was the rarest of chances on what was a sultry evening in the most southerly outpost in this season's UEFA Europa League. Neither side was able to get a handle on proceedings, with passes going astray and touches as heavy as the atmosphere at Bloomfield Stadium.

It took 30 minutes before a chance in anger was created, in fact, Pardo scrambling off his line and falling at Dor Mikha's feet after the midfielder had been released by an exchange of passes between Rade Prica and Zahavi. Both teams stepped it up after the restart, Tal Ben Haim putting on the afterburners a couple of times as he danced in from the wing, but the telling final ball was always missing.

Constantinos Charalambides threatened on the break, firing straight at goalkeeper Juan Pablo, yet APOEL were increasingly pegged back into their own half as Maccabi searched for the breakthrough. Ben Haim almost fashioned it 14 minutes from time after a block fell to him on the edge of the box, but Pardo, again, was quickly on to him. That looked as close as either side would come before the grandstand finale.