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Wednesday, 05 August 2009 22:55

Champions League: Grieving Moreira’s brave efforts not enough as Partizan crash out to APOEL

Partizan 1-0 APOEL
(APOEL win 2-1 on aggregate)

An early goal from Almani Moreira appeared to set Partizan on the right track to reversing their two-goal deficit from the first leg of their Champions League qualifier, but Cypriot champions APOEL held out to progress to the play-offs.

APOEL arrived in the Serbian capital with a two-goal cushion following their 2-0 victory in Nicosia last week. Nuno Morais took his usual place as the anchorman in the team’s midfield, while former Benfica winger Helio Pinto was selected for a place on the bench, from which he emerged to play the final quarter of the match.

A 25,000-strong Partizana Stadium got the start they had dreamed of after just three minutes when crowd favourite Moreira halved the deficit by giving the hosts an early lead. Goran Gavrancic did well to block APOEL’s intended clearance out of defence, and Moreira was on-hand to calmly fire home from inside the area.

APOEL missed a series of good chances to draw level in the first half, but Partizan resumed control in the second period. However, despite the support of the home fans, as well as a late sending off for APOEL’s Joost Broerse, the Serbian champions were unable to find the all-important second goal to take the tie through to extra time.

Partizan vice-captain Moreira had last night refused coach Slavisa Jokanovic’s offer to return home to Portugal after learning of his mother’s death. Having shown extraordinary character to come through this evening’s match, the former Boavista man will now leave the squad and return to his family base for a period of leave.

YouTube: Moreira’s early opener for Partizan against APOEL

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