APOEL FC 2-1 FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Nektarios Alexandrou's stunning strike set the tone for an eventful game that saw both teams reduced to ten before Nuno Morais' 55th-minute winner.
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Nektarios Alexandrou's stunning early strike set the tone for an eventful game that brought three goals, two red cards and three points for APOEL FC.
Alexandrou unleashed a devastating blow from distance after 14 minutes, meeting Mário Sérgio's tapped free-kick with a thunderous effort that clipped the post on the way in. FC Girondins de Bordeaux reacted well, levelling through Ludovic Sané before the interval, and the game was blown wide open soon after the restart when Mario Budimir and Landry N'Guémo were sent off after tangling. Nuno Morais quickly made it 2-1, and this time the lead always looked safe.
Victory moved APOEL above Bordeaux to third in Group F, three points behind Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in second. They host the Israeli team on matchday five and can only hope for a start like the one Alexandrou gave them tonight. Yet they somewhat lost their way thereafter, dropping deep and inviting pressure. It was a dangerous ploy, particularly with Ludovic Obraniak causing problems from set pieces, and so it proved as Sané met the No4's corner in first-half added time.
That sparked a frantic spell at the start of the second period, and when both teams were reduced to ten men on 50 minutes the game opened up. Morais was quick to capitalise, making a forceful run from midfield, playing a one-two with Selim Benachour via a favourable Sané deflection and calmly sided-footed in. APOEL did not ease off this time, keeping the pressure on, but time and again Cédric Carrasso repelled them, making a string of saves.
The spectre of another game-changing last-minute goal from Bordeaux loomed, following their winner when the sides met two weeks ago, but APOEL held on.