October 1, 2014 / 3:43 AM / in 3 years

Ajax pay the penalty as APOEL hold out for a draw

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam and APOEL Nicosia played out an exciting 1-1 draw in the Champions League on Tuesday but both sides were left regretting missing the opportunity to seize all three points.

Lucas Andersen (L) of Ajax Amsterdam celebrates with a team mate after scoring a goal against APOEL Nicosia during their Champions League group F soccer match at GSP Stadium in Nicosia September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis

Gustavo Manduca’s penalty just after the half-hour for APOEL cancelled out Lucas Andersen’s 28th-minute opener in Group F.

Both teams created enough chances at APOEL’s GSP stadium to earn victory but Ajax, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, were left most annoyed after squandering the lead.

Andersen opened the scoring for the Dutch champions when the ball fell to him after Lasse Schone’s tame effort was beaten away by keeper Uker Pardo.

Ajax almost scored again straight from the restart following a mix-up at the back but it took APOEL just three minutes to draw level when a handball by right back Ricardo van Rhijn gave Manduca the opportunity to equalise from the spot.

He sent Dutch number one keeper Jasper Cillessen the wrong way to send the home fans into a frenzy.

Ajax coach Frank De Boer was disappointed by the penalty decision, despite replays appearing to support the officials.

“The referee gave the penalty after taking advice from one of his assistants despite being closest to the ball himself,” De Boer said.

Ajax are now third in the group with two points, one clear of bottom-placed APOEL. Paris St Germain top the standings with four points after winning 3-2 at home to Barcelona, who are a point behind.

Ajax enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and should have taken the lead in the second minute when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who netted a hat-trick at the weekend, side-footed wide from just inside the penalty area.

After the equaliser the Cypriot side appeared to come out of their shell and created a glorious opportunity just before the break, when Cillian Sheridan narrowly missed getting his toe to Manduca’s return pass.

The second half began at a frantic pace as both teams pressed for a winner and APOEL did manage to put the ball into the back of the net in the 84th minute, but substitute Tomas De Vincenti was ruled offside.

“In a game against a big team in the Champions League when you create plenty of chances and you don’t convert you feel hard done by,” APOEL’s coach Giorgos Donis said.

Editing by Neville Dalton and Toby Davis

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