Cypriot champions Aris Limassol stunned football fans across the continent after beating Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers at home 2-1 in their second Group C Europa League game.
Rangers, who beat Real Betis to get their Europa League campaign up and running, were sunk in Cyprus before they even got going.
Aris defender Alex Moucketou-Moussounda put the hosts ahead after just nine minutes before midfielder Shavy Babicka doubled their advantage on the hour.
The unexpected but deserved victory has drawn the attention of world media, as the Cypriot outfit ranks 293 in UEFA’s club coefficient rankings, while the Scots rank 30.
The first goal came after Leo Bengtsson’s cross was glanced home by the head of Moucketou-Moussounda, with defender Goldson looking at fault.
Rangers were all over the place, and Bengtsson should have made it 2-0 when Mayambela’s cutback left him with the goal at his mercy. But he skied a horrible finish over the relieved Butland’s bar.
When Rangers finally worked their way into a good position, Lammers caught sight of goal, but he hit a tame effort at Aris’ keeper Vana Alves.
The visitors put the ball in the net on 70 minutes when Sima played in Dessers, and he held off his marker before firing past Vana, giving some hope to Rangers’ 1700 travelling fans.
But it required a super save from the ever-impressive Butland to stop substitute Aleksandr Kokorin from finding a third goal that would have been no more than Aris deserved.
With Thursday night’s victory, Aris banked three points in the group, improving its poor coefficient in European tournaments. It is only their second season of playing European football in its 93-year history.
Aris’ first three points in a European tournament’s group stage has landed it joint top in Group C, where all four teams have one win each.
The club also increased its revenues, as UEFA rewards €630,000 for the victory in the Europa League group stage, an amount adding to €3,630,000 mln earned from group participation.
So far, Cyprus’ champions have banked more than €5 mln in revenue when ticket sales and rewards for participating in qualifying rounds are added.
Aris Limassol, the top flight’s perennial underdogs, were crowned champions for the first time in its 93-year existence last season, writing Cypriot football history.
The atmosphere in the stadium, despite Aris’ small fan base, was buzzing.
Most of the noise in this small Limassol ground is generated by a trombone and saxophone combo playing hits like Rasputin by Boney M, backed by a timpani section.
The curious little band struck up again at full-time as Aris celebrated a famous victory.