Fairytale complete for Apoel

MINNOWS Apoel Nicosia created Champions League history last night by becoming the first Cypriot club to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament following a 0-0 draw away against Zenit St Petersburg.

The Cypriot champions, who regularly play in front of sub 10,000 crowds in domestic competition, had to withstand a second half onslaught but held on to claim the point they required to seal a top two spot in Group G.

German referee Felix Brych was forced to call a halt to play twice after Zenit supporters lit flares and the pitch became enveloped with thick smoke.

Holders Barcelona qualified as winners of Group H after edging a five-goal thriller in the San Siro against AC Milan – Xavi scoring the winner. In Group H a goal from Brazil striker Hulk gave 2004 winners Porto a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, who are now eliminated. The Portuguese side will now battle it out with Zenit St Petersburg to see who joins Apoel Nicosia in the next round.