Omonia Nicosia was initially allowed to play in the Champions League as Cyprus champions, but Dinamo Zagreb referred coach Henning Berg’s (former Manchester United) club to the Europa League play-offs.
With the competition in Cyprus not yet starting, it seemed like a viable card for Antwerp. In the balanced first half, Nicosia had an opportunity with a shot on the post from Kakolis.
Antwerp responded with a great goal. Youssef Al-Amaq, Baliquicha crossed the cross and Little Benson headed for 0-1.
No problem in the blazing air in Nicosia, but just before halftime there was a thunderbolt out of the blue when De Lat just handed the ball over and the Cypriot ax fell mercilessly: 1-1 through Loiseau.
Antwerp dominated much of the first half, but completely lost control after the break. Nicosia offered the Antwerp defense twice with Engels and Vines making their debuts. At first Kakoullis was not taken care of, then Loizou was also given a sea of space to dive into.
Priske tried to adapt by regaining control of the midfield. Nainggolan’s first appearance caused a flash of flame, but it quickly extinguished.
Then the other alternative, Miyoshi, was more decisive. Cunningly he freed himself and pulled the trigger mercilessly: 3-2. Has the transformation begun?
Not really, because Antwerp will swallow a fourth target. Sick had disappointed Engels, but he himself erred. Atimoen, who is also a substitute, hit the penalty spot.
Antwerp must now win by at least two goals next week to advance to the Europa League group stage. Certainly not impossible, because Omonia Nicosia is not a truly world class team. But then Priske will have to arrange his affairs defensively.
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