Trickovski and APOEL close group play with loss

Ivan Trickovski (yellow jersey); photo: Yahoo!In the sixth and final matchday of Group G, APOEL suffered a 0:2 home loss against Shakhtar Donetsk but they still managed to finish in first place due to Porto and Zenit playing a 0:0 draw in the other game of the group.

Ivan Trickovski returned from his injury for APOEL and played all 90 minutes in today’s Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk.  Tricko began the game as the lone striker for APOEL in a 4-2-3-1 formation before he dropped further back with the introduction of striker Esteban Solari in the 68th minute.  Ivan was pretty quiet for the majority of the game but did have two quality chances, one in each half.  First, in the 40th minute, Trickovski had a great chance from close range but his effort was saved nicely by the Shakhtar keeper and it went for a corner.  Then, in the 69th minute, Trickovski came close once again from a good position but his shot was blocked by an opposing defender and it resulted in another corner for APOEL.  Earlier in the 8th minute, Trickovski was also shown a yellow card by the Romanian referee for diving.

Overall, Shakhtar Donetsk was the better team and deserved the 0:2 road victory.  APOEL was already guaranteed a top two finish in Group G and did not seem to play with the same intensity in this game.  Shakhtar Donetsk had around 60% of the possession and 21 attempts on goal as opposed to only seven goal attempts for APOEL.  The score was kept respectable by the APOEL keeper who made a number of fine saves, including saving a penalty in the 12th minute.

Despite the loss, APOEL was able to finish in first place of Group G with 9 points after six matchdays.  Russian club Zenit also had 9 points but APOEL had the head-to-head advantage due to compiling four points from the two games against Zenit (win at home and draw on the road).  Therefore, they enter the knockout stages as the top ranked team in Group G while Zenit will also advance by finishing in second place.  Third placed Porto will now have to settle for the Europa League while last placed Shakhtar Donetsk is eliminated from both the Champions League and Europa League.

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