UEFA: Apoel-Zenit 0-0, Apoel Through to Final 16
"It is a great, great moment in APOEL's history," said Ailton Almeida in comments reported by Sigma TV.
"God gave us a big gift tonight," said Gustavo Manduca, adding that it was a difficult game and sometimes the cold weather interfered with the team's concentration.
"We achieved something that three months ago we didn't even have the right to dream of...I'm very proud," said coach Ivan Jovanović.
The game was suspended twice, once in the first half and once in the 55th minute because fans threw firecrackers onto the field in St. Petersburg.
After the second interruption, the game continued in the 63rd minute after the smoke cleared. APOEL fans in Cyprus drew a collective breath in the 73rd minute when Zenit almost scored a goal, with the ball seemingly passing the goal posts but punted out at the last minute by an APOEL player. There was another close call after Zenit player Danny Gomes tried for another goal in the 75th minute, but the ball was high and the attack was rebuffed once again.
APOEL led Group G with eight points - one point ahead of Zenit - and is the first Cypriot team to make the last 16 in the island's history.
During the last game with Porto three weeks ago, APOEL won 2-1 with a winning goal by Gustavo Manduca.
In Nicosia, 3000 APOEL fans hit the streets in celebration, and three of them were arrested for damaging rival football team premises Omonia.
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