AEL Limassol FC 0-0 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach
Oscar Wendt missed a 98th-minute penalty to cap a frustrating night for the German visitors as AEL picked up a point on their group stage debut.
Oscar Wendt missed a 98th-minute penalty as AEL Limassol FC held on for a dramatic point at home to VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The Group C opener looked to be petering out into a goalless draw when, deep into added time, a fairly innocuous Håvard Nordtveit shot struck the sprawling Paulo Sérgio's arm. Left-back Wendt stepped up, and though he wrong-footed Matias Degra, his effort came crashing down off the crossbar. The UEFA Europa League clash therefore ended as it had begun – with the German side denied by the woodwork.
The game was short on genuine chances, but the initial stages could not have been more open: Mönchengladbach could have been 2-0 up inside five minutes. Both opportunities came from the inside-right channel as the visitors exposed a lack of cohesion between centre-backs Dosa Júnior and Stelios Parpas. Alexander Ring screwed wastefully wide and though Mike Hanke made better connection, hitting a post, it was another let off for AEL.
The Cypriot outfit, who came so close to beating RSC Anderlecht to the UEFA Champions League, heeded the warning. Their high defensive line was withdrawn, and though the tactic ceded more possession, they always looked a threat from set pieces. As did Mönchengladbach, in a more direct sense, as Tolga Cigerci's well-struck free-kick was tipped around the upright by Degra with half-time approaching.
The visitors grew in strength as the second period wore on, pushing AEL further and further back, but a goal proved elusive. Substitutes Granit Xhaka and Igor De Camargo went close with headers that Degra pushed behind before Wendt squandered his spot kick. It means AEL travel to Olympique de Marseille in a fortnight with a maiden UEFA group stage point under their belt; Mönchengladbach host Fenerbahçe SK next time out.