LIMASSOL – APOEL staged a dramatic comeback to snatch a 2-1 victory at Apollon Limassol on Monday and remain six points behind Anorthosis who had a more comfortable evening beating Alki 3-0.
Ivan Jovanovic’s side had dominated chances in the first half with Selim Benachour and Constantinos Charalambides wasting decent scoring opportunities and they were punished at the other end as George Merkis leaped unmarked to head his side ahead.
APOEL responded just after halftime when the Apollon defence was caught napping at the back and Benachour snuck a shot past Bruno Vale.
Apollon missed the chance to regain the lead midway through the second half when Nektarios Alexandrou rugby-tackled the dangerous Alex Constantinou in the area but Fotis Papoulis sent the resulting penalty crashing onto Urko Pardo’s crossbar.
Apollon were reduced to ten men minutes later when Bojan Markovski was sent off for bringing down Aldo Adorno and the visitors also thought they should have had a penalty when Stathis Aloneftis was brought down in the area.
With 12 minutes additional time played – following a stoppage in play when fans from both sides set off flares – Helio Pinto, who had earlier squandered good opportunities to score, sent the travelling fans into raptures with clever freek-kick in the final minute of the game.
The win also marked a return for midfield veteran Marinos Satsias who made his comeback from injury after eight months out.
The game was marred however by crowd trouble as fans threw plastic seats, stones and bottles at police. Two police officers were arrested and four fans were later arrested.
The other game on Monday was a quieter affair as two early goals from Yiannis Okkas and a second half penalty from Juliano Spadacio kept league leaders Anorthosis top of the standings with a healthy six-point advantage following their 3-0 win over Alki.
Ronny Levy’s side are still unbeaten in the league after 17 games.