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Helio “90′+12″ Pinto Could Teach Sergio Aguero a Thing or Two

As an English-based APOEL fan, it’s been extremely difficult to watch any game this season.I paid 6 euros to watch an LTV stream for our last fixture against Omonia, and saw about 3 minutes of action over two hours. That’s fine for Omonia fans… They’re lucky if they see 3 minutes of good football in a season! But, just as I’d given up hope of seeing APOEL live this year, I found a stream to the Apollon game. I know… I could not have picked a better game to watch!

Of course, we were not in our best form. We haven’t been for a long time now, and we needed a miracle to stay in the title race. Personally, I cannot think of anything more miraculous than a winning goal, from a free-kick, TWELVE minutes into stoppage time.

Pinto (or Pindo, both are fine) bleeds orange and yellow too, and to see him ignite our title charge, like the flares our pyromaniac fans set off to cause such a delay, felt like a glorious vindication of our never say die attitude. Blood, sweat and tears went into that game against Apollon. I know we aren’t playing well, but the players are giving everything they can to the cause. Can we honestly ask for anymore than that?

I did some research this week – which is quite rare for a journalist, these days – and found that Helio Pinto’s goal was, on record, the third latest goal in a 90-minute match. Only Manchester United’s Anderson (90′+16) has scored a later goal in a league game, netting for Gremio in a Brazilian promotion play-off match against Nautico, in 2005.

And guess what delightful Mediterranean island is home to the latest ever goal in known professional football?

You may remember a cup match, back in 2004, between Anorthosis and Apollon Limassol (who just cannot seem to escape late, late drama). A controversial penalty decision caused absolute mayhem, as fans invaded the pitch, Apollon players stormed off, and the game descended into madness. By time the referee restored order, 30 minutes of injury time was signalled.

Apollon netted twice, after the penalty that caused such a storm was, hilariously, missed. The second goal came very near the end of the game, making it at least 90′+20 when it was scored. However, a lack of online sources put the validity of the ‘latest ever goal’ in doubt.

The more I learn about Cypriot football, the madder it gets, and yet people STILL wonder why I am in love with Cyprus!

Something else that is bound to hit the insanity stratosphere is this Saturday’s derby with Omonia. The late goals, post-match violence, and sublime volleys (cheers Solomou!) of last year’s clashes still remain a vivid memory to both sets of fans. In my short time following APOEL, EVERY game against Nicosia’s whipping boys has been a memorable one…

Excluding the 0-0 draw this season, there has always been a ‘do or die’ quality to these games – that sounds like an obvious thing to say about a fierce rivalry, but I mean in the sense of progressing in the league. It isn’t a must win purely because of the mutual hatred, but because from now until the end of the season, every game is like a cup final for us. We need to win constantly to have any chance of catching Anorthosis.

For me, Adorno has to start the game. I know he’s carrying an injury, but if APOEL have ever needed to roll the dice and take a calculated gamble, the time is now. We need someone to shine, a hero for the day, who could become a club legend for life.

These are the occasions that make ordinary players special. The team owe it to the fans, the life blood of APOEL, to play as if they were warriors in the Colosseum. I expect nothing more from a team lead by General Jovanovich, to pour their hearts and souls into another ‘do or die’ fixture.

We have Mikkel Beckmann in the squad, Oliveira and Karipides are getting back to full fitness, and I must say, Alex Tziolis has bossed the midfield, at a time when we need leadership the most. I feel that the tide is turning our way again, and our poor home form will change… Emphatically. (144)