Ronny Levy must have raised an imaginary middle finger to all his doubters on the 58th minute, as Jan Rezek chipped Alki keeper Giorgallidis to make it 2-0 and virtually settle the tie against 10-man Alki. A minute earlier, Alki had spurned a golden chance to even the score, and the usual voices of discontent were heard across the stadium. When Alki’s winger Sidney missed that chance, Levy emerged from the bench concerned. To his astonishment, he became the focus of the crowd’s wrath, with people behind the Anorthosis bench gesturing for substitutions to be made. He turned his head towards the fans, looked around and, evidently shocked by the reaction, raised his shoulders in bewilderment. Then Laborde stole the ball off Cirillo and put Rezek through with a beautifully weighted pass. The Czech, with all the coolness in the world, produced a wonderful chip with his right foot to beat the keeper and settle the crowd’s nerves.
It had been an emotional afternoon following William Boaventura’s heart episode last week. As the teams entered the pitch, Alki players wore T-shirts in support of the Brazilian, while a huge banner picturing Boaventura, with the words WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY, was placed on the South Stand. When Spadacio opened the score, all Anorthosis players celebrated together holding Boaventura’s No. 88 shirt. They all pointed towards the banner when Rezek scored the second; Spadacio did the same when he made it 3-0.
Despite the scoreline, it had been far from an easy game. Alki, having started the campaign with three straight defeats, had come determined to gain their first points. Levy opted to start with Skopelitis and Alexa in midfield and left Laban on the bench. Shelis, the only Cypriot in our line-up, started at left-back, Ilic and Jorge formed the defensive partnership, and Andic took the right-back slot. Spadacio played in the hole behind front-man Rezek, winged by Calvo and Laborde.
Alki pressed high and quickly took control of the midfield, with Kaseke imperious as ever against Anorthosis. This high-pressing tactic caused us all sorts of trouble, as we were unable to gain possession and impose ourselves. However, the visitors failed to create any clear-cut chances. Instead, the first notable moment of the game fell to Rezek, whose near-post shot on-the-turn after Laborde’s pass was saved by the keeper’s feet. Alki’s style leaves them exposed to counter-attacks, and when Alexa found Laborde with a long diagonal ball on the 33rd minute, the Colombian raced away unchallenged. Having seen Spadacio arriving late in the box, he hit a wonderful low pass to the far post for a simple tap-in. Seven minutes later, Alki defender Santamaria stupidly retaliated to a strong challenge by Alexa and was sent off.
Our players must have thought the game was over, such was their attitude in the opening minutes of the second half. Alki though, came out with all guns blazing in search of an equaliser. Seemingly taken aback by their aggressiveness, our midfield and defence were all over the place. The visitors created two very good chances that rattled the otherwise quiet home crowd and Levy. Then, against the run of play, Rezek made it 2-0, his goal reminiscent of this beauty by Croatia’s Davor Suker vs Denmark in Euro ’96:
Game over. Spadacio added the third -and his fifth in 4 league games- on 75 minutes, beating one defender after Rezek’ pass and slamming it home with his left.
Our first real challenge of the season comes on Sunday, as we travel to Limassol to face Apollon. A win and a convincing performance there will give our title aspirations a huge boost, and it will also help the under-fire Levy keep the wolves at bay.
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