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APOEL trounce AEL to win Cyprus crown, head for Champions' League

31 May, 2014

Nicosia side APOEL are headed back to the UEFA Champions League series after beating out-of-town rivals AEL of Limassol 1-0 in one of the most heated championships that was decided in the final clash in an empty stadium. Thousands of frenetic fans flocked to the club's premises at the capital's entrance blocking off roads and celebrating as they did ten days ago when they beat Ermis Aradhippou to clinch the Cup. APOEL's decider came from Cillian Sheridan just before half time in an otherwise disappointing game with a lot of errors by both sides. Taking a clear advantage, the Nicosia squad slowed their pace in the second. The game was a controversy in itself as the two had clashed in Limassol a fortnight ago but after AEL fans threw firecrackers into the field, injuring a player, the referee abandoned the game in the 52 nd minute. As if the name-calling and cross-town accusations were not enough among the two clubs whose fans have a reputation for violence, the Cyprus Football Association (KOP) faced further turmoil when its judicial body failed to rule in favour of either club and resigned. KOP's weaknesses appeared further as it too was unable to rule and decided on Friday that the final would replayed on Saturday, the day the players' contracts expired. For now, APOEL are headed back to the Champions' League, hoping to repeat their previous best when they reached the quarter final stage in the 2011-2012 series.