APOEL looks to overturn first leg defeat against Lyon
NICOSIA - The Associated Press
Apoel’s Brazilian forward Ailton (L) is tackled by Lyon defender Kone Bakary (R) during the two teams’ first leg match in the Champions League second round. AFP photoAPOEL Nicosia will again try to defy expectations and overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lyon in the second leg of their Champions League matchup tonight to continue its historic Champions League run.
APOEL has already become the first Greek Cypriot team to reach the round of 16 of the tournament and will rely on its home-field advantage to go even farther. The team has only lost once in 10 European matches at Nicosia’s GSP stadium, and earned group-stage wins over Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto there.
“90 minutes away from eternity,” Greek Cypriot sports daily Goal News said on its front page.
It is still considered the underdog against a much more experienced Lyon, playing in the last 16 for the ninth season in a row.
But APOEL’s players know that an upset on Wednesday will make history for the club and earn them a career highlight.
“Everybody’s expecting this moment, the most important in the life I believe of this club and a very important day of us as players, as a team,” APOEL’s Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Manduca said. “We must score, we must win. We’ll take the risk and we try to do our best to continue in this fantastic competition.”
A win over Ermis kept APOEL close to national league leaders AEL and Omonia.
While Portuguese midfielder Helio Pinto is suspended, APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic has the rest of his squad at his disposal.
APOEL owes much of its success in the tournament to its disciplined defense, but will have to go on the attack more in this game in search of a goal. Jovanovic will count on forwards Estaban Solari, Ivan Trickovski and star Ailton Almeida to exploit the defensive weaknesses of struggling Lyon which has lost three and drawn two in its last five French league matches.