A second-half goal from Simão ensured Club Atlético de Madrid retained their one-point lead over APOEL FC in Group D and stayed on course for a place in the UEFA Europa League.
The Cypriot champions began brightly in Nicosia and were rewarded by Nenad Mirosavljević's close-range finish in the fifth minute. Yet Atlético fought back strongly and return to Spain with a share of the spoils thanks to Simão's equaliser midway through the second half. The result leaves them on three points, one above APOEL who conclude their first group-stage campaign at section winners Chelsea FC on Matchday 6, when FC Porto visit Madrid.
Cheered on by a capacity crowd, the hosts got off to the perfect start when Nectarios Alexandrou created space on the left and drilled in a low cross which evaded a static defence, leaving Mirosavljević to tap in from close range. That, however, proved APOEL's only opening of the first half as Atlético went in search of an equaliser, Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán a constant threat as they surged forward. The latter could have levelled in the 14th minute only for Dionisios Chiotis to comfortably save his shot.
Agüero then passed up two chances to restore parity, blasting wide from close range before his attempted chip sailed straight into the arms of the grateful Chiotis, who then gathered Cléber Santana's strike from distance at the second attempt. At the other end, lone striker Mirosavljević continued to ask questions of the Atlético back four but Ivan Jovanović's side were lacking the final ball and rarely threatened Sergio Asenjo's goal.
Atlético on top
The second half continued in similar fashion with Atlético seizing control of midfield as Simão, Agüero and Forlán kept the APOEL defence on their toes. Simão whipped in a low cross that Chiotis could only parry, forcing Marios Elia to clear hurriedly with José Manuel Jurado ready to pounce, and then Jurado and Juanito both fired high and wide from distance. With pressure mounting, APOEL could have relieved their increasingly stretched rearguard when Hélio Pinto released Alexandrou only for the Cypriot international to mis-hit his shot under pressure from Álvaro Domínguez.
That let-off proved crucial as Atlético equalised on 62 minutes, the busy Agüero bursting down the right and curling in a cross which Chiotis could only push into the path of Simão, who smashed in. Knowing his side needed more venom up front, Jovanović swiftly threw on Mário Breška and Marcin Żewłakow yet the Cypriot champions continued to toil against the visitors' back line, with most crosses going astray.
The momentum was now with Atlético, for whom substitute Maxi Rodríguez almost snatched all three points on 86 minutes when his strike from inside the area was blocked by Chiotis with Christos Kontis tidying up. There was still time for one last spell of APOEL pressure, but as they had done since the fifth minute Atlético held firm to ensure they left with the draw they desired.
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