LARNACA - Cyprus secured their first qualifying win in three years with a 1-0 victory over Iceland at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca and pick up their first three points in 2014 World Cup qualifying Group E.
Constantinos Makrides - who plays his club football with Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine - scored the only goal of the game to hand Cyprus their first qualifying win since beating Bulgaria 4-1 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier back on October 10, 2009.
Cyprus, who lost their opening group game in Albania, may have bossed the vast majority of the first half but it was the Icelandic visitors that had the game's first real chance. Gylfi Sigurdsson found Birkir Bjarnason in the area in the 13th minute and the Delfino Pescara 1936 forward's goal-bound strike was well-blocked by Dosa Junior.
From then on, however, it was Cyprus who looked the most dangerous in front of goal - Michalis Constantinou, Constantinos Makrides, Demetris Christofi and Athos Solomou all seeing their efforts saved by Hannes Halldorsson.
Nicos Nioplias' side continued to dominate after interval and spurned further chances through Constantinou before the hosts finally found the opening they craved.
Christofi burst free on the right and pulled a pass back for Makrides who struck a sweet shot into Halldorsson's bottom right corner.
Iceland's response was instant - substitute Alfred Finnbogason almost snatching an equaliser minutes later as his strike from outside the area crashed onto Tasos Kissas' bar. That was the closest the visitors came in the second half as Cyprus could have added further goals to their lead - Solomou missing the best chance after firing straight Finnbogason after being fed by Vincent Laban.
Iceland's misery was complete in the closing stages of the game when Solvi Geir Jonsson was shown a red card for a late challenge on Makrides.
“A big congratulations is in order for my players”, said Nioplias after the game who called for people to stay grounded. “This wasn’t just a victory – it was a victory with a good performance. We need to look at every game one at a time. We shouldn’t fly in the clouds because of this victory because there will be ups and downs. In Cyprus, we tend to get too excited when we win and too disappointed when we lose.
“This is our first victory in three years. It doesn’t mean that we are now firmly fixed on the road to Brazil but its certainly important to pick up our first three points in the group.”