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APOEL fairy tale run in Europe ends

APOEL exited the Europa League with their heads held high on Thursday night following a 1-0 defeat in Anderlecht to exit the Last 16 of the competition 2-0 on aggregate.

The Cypriot champions had travelled to Brussels with a depleted side with coach Thomas Christiansen missing key players Nuno Morais, Vinicius and George Efrem.

The absentees were felt early on as Anderlecht reined shots on Boy Waterman. APOEL finally began to settle but the attacking trio of David Barral, Pieros Sotiriou and Igor de Camargo failed to make any kind of impact.

APOEL needed to wait until the second half to register efforts on goal with Yannis Gianniotas and Costakis Artymatas going close.

The contest was put beyond doubt when Frank Acheampong struck from close range after a quick break from the Belgian hosts.

“I feel we did ourselves and our fans proud,” said Gianniotas.

“We are proud but also a bit bitter. We feel could have done better against them in both games. But there is no point reflecting on the negatives. We exceeded expectations.”

APOEL had entered the Europa League after losing to FC Copenhagen 2-1 on aggregate in the Champions League playoffs.

They then topped their group consisting of Olympiacos – who they beat twice – Young Boys and FC Astana.

Christiansen’s men then made the shock of Round of 32 after managing to eliminate La Liga side Athletic Club 4-3 on aggregate.

APOEL’s feat in the Europa League is the longest of any Cypriot club while the Nicosia club had also made headlines in the 2011-12 Champions League after managing to reach the quarter-finals.

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