Eintracht Frankfurt trounced Cyprus champs APOEL in Nicosia on Thursday night, while Apollon Limassol FC revived their hopes of making it through to the next round of the Europa League group games, after Argentinian striker Gaston Sangoy scored the winning goal against Legia Warszawa in the Polish capital.
"I got my payback in the second half," Sangoy told UEFA.com after he missed a penalty in the first half then hit an unexpected winner at Legia.
He said he was thrilled to make amends after missing a penalty in Group J, with his goal in an empty-stadium in Warsaw securing his side three points. It is a first away victory for a Cypriot side in a UEFA club competition group stage in their last 16 attempts.
“I am not that surprised that we won here as we knew how Legia played. Of course, I was nervous when I missed the penalty in the first half, but my colleagues encouraged me not to think too much about it, and I quickly put it behind me. I got my payback in the second half,” scoring in the 56th.
“This win makes us feel very positive about the next games. It's a pity we dropped three points against Trabzonspor in the first match, but thanks to this victory in Warsaw, we are back on the right track,” Sangoy added.
“We watched a lot of videos of Legia matches – against Lazio plus some from the Polish league – so we knew exactly how they played,” said Apollon midfielder Camel Meriem.
“We were well organised, especially in defence. OK, Legia had more possession, but they did not create a lot of dangerous situations,” Meriem added.
“It's a shame about that [matchday one] defeat against Trabzonspor, but we are a small team compared to Lazio, Trabzonspor or even Legia, so we have nothing to lose. Every point we get is a bonus for us.”
Legia, however, were not all disappointed.
“Our situation has got complicated, but we won't give up. We just have to win the upcoming matches,” said midfielder Michał Żyro.
“Apollon did not create many chances and it was the opposite for us – we had lot of them, especially from set pieces. Unfortunately, we lacked accuracy in the most important moments of the game. I made a mistake in losing the ball and Apollon scored the only goal of the game from the resulting counterattack. I know I will be criticised for that, but that's life – I have to accept it.”
Legia defender Tomasz Jodłowiec added that up until they scored, Apollon “had not created any clear chances from open play. Their first dangerous attack ended in the goal. Sometimes you win games like this 4-0, but sometimes you lose them. It is good to hear that Trabzonspor and Lazio drew, but we have to win our next matches.”
Eintracht make it two from two
Back in Cyprus, Srdjan Lakić marked his birthday in style as Eintracht Frankfurt made it two 3-0 wins from two in Group F, while Nektarios Alexandrou's own goal midway through the first half set the tone for a disappointing evening for the hosts, with Portuguese coach Paulo Sergio rumoured to be losing his place.
Lakić turned 30 on the eve of the game and capped an energetic performance just before the hour, playing a one-two with Václav Kadlec and slipping the ball between APOEL goalie Urko Pardo's legs. Pardo had already conceded by then, helpless to prevent Alexandrou's own goal, and the keeper was soon retrieving the ball from his net again as the alert Sebastian Jung made it three.
That Eintracht vim was a contrast to the fractious early stages as both teams struggled to gain a foothold, but it all clicked into place when the visitors forged ahead on 27 minutes. Tranquillo Barnetta set the wheels in motion, delivering a long ball which Jung met with a first time cross and Alexandrou, attempting to block, could only steer it past Pardo.
Eintracht began to dictate matters, and when Lakić doubled the advantage the game looked to be up for an APOEL side that have found goals hard to come by this season. 'Feel the terror of Nicosia' said a banner pushed up against the night's sky at one end of the GSP Stadium, but with Anderson Bamba peerless at the back, there did not seem to be much to unsettle their German visitors.
Jung duly sealed the points, cushioning Carlos Zambrano's quickly-taken free-kick from halfway and side-footing in his first goal in nearly 12 months. Eintracht, six games unbeaten, will be on the verge of the UEFA Europa League round of 16 if they win at home to Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC next time out. APOEL, who travel to FC Girondins de Bordeaux in three weeks, have it all to do.
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