Omonia Nicosia claimed the 16th cup in its history in a closely contested final against Ael Limassol on Wednesday night at the GSP stadium.
‘The Shamrocks’ beat ‘The Limassol Lions’ 1-0 with a goal by Iranian international Karim Ansarifard in the 85th minute, to lay their hands to a second consecutive domestic cup.
The two teams were tightly knit together for most of the match, with Ael starting off on the right foot, but Omonia quickly balanced the game after the 20-minute mark and had the lion’s share of possession.
The rivals headed goalless to the dressing room at half-time and until the 70th minute, they looked like they had their sights on extra time and penalties.
However, the game picked up pace after a couple of chances by Ael and the introduction of Roman Bezus for Omonia.
The Greens’ coach, Sofronis Avgousti, had also withdrawn US midfielder Mix Diskerud earlier, to give the chance to his veteran vice-captain Fotis Papoulis to grace the pitch one last time before retiring.
Papoulis’ and Bezus’ introductions, although they took away from Omonia’s defensive solidity, gave the team fluency going forward, which is what led to the final’s winning goal.
After a nice exchange of passes between Bezus and Papoulis, the latter gave the ultimate assist of his career to Ansarifard who netted the winner with a composed finish.
After the goal, Ael put all their weight into attacking and missed a notable chance with former Everton winger Kevin Mirallas, but eventually did not have enough in terms of quality to wrestle the title away from Omonia.
Besides the trophy, tonight’s victory also gives the Nicosia outfit the chance to play in the Europa Conference League, starting from the tournament’s second qualification round.
Although just one hour away, Ael will have a long way back to Limassol, as this is the 12th cup final they lose, in 19 appearances. They now are now tied with Apoel for most final defeats in the Cyprus Cup.