APOEL FC took a firm grip of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against FK Partizan as second-half goals from Nenad Mirosavljevic and Marcin Zewlakow gave them a 2-0 home win.
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After the two clubs combined to accumulate 17 goals without reply in the previous round, they failed to trouble the scorers in the opening 45 minutes in Nicosia.
Lamine Diarra passed up two excellent chances for the visitors in the first half and the hosts made Partizan pay after the break with both goals coming from headers following set-pieces.
The Serbian champions were in impressive form during their second qualifying round tie, scoring 12 times against Rhyl FC. They started this game positively too, with Diarra having a left-footed shot turned over by home goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis early on.
Midway through the first half, the Senegalese striker had another presentable opportunity but scuffed his shot in front of goal.
Chances were proving hard to come by on a hot and humid night in Nicosia with much of the play battled out in the middle of the park.
However, four minutes after the break, Mirosavljevic made the breakthrough for APOEL against his former club when he found himself unmarked and headed in Konstantinos Charalampidis’s inviting free-kick. It was from another dead-ball situation that the home team doubled their lead as Zewlakow nodded in another Charalampidis delivery late on.
It was his third goal in as many European games so far this season and coming with five minutes remaining, Partizan could not respond meaning the Cypriot champions take a decent lead to Serbia for next week’s return leg.