Andre Schembri could not hide his satisfaction after helping Apollon Limassol to knock out Scottish side Aberdeen and move on the brink of the group stages of the Europa League.
The Malta striker, who joined Apollon this summer from Portuguese side Boavista, was a stand-out performer for the Cypriot side when giving them a deserved lead with a fine opportunistic strike after 30 minutes.
That goal proved crucial as the hosts went on to seal a 2-0 win and complete a 3-2 aggregate victory over last season’s runners-up in the Scottish Premier League.
“I’m really happy to have played a key role in helping Apollon reach the play-off round of the Europa League,” Schembri said.
“Despite losing the first leg in Scotland last week we still believed that we could still turn the tie around and we really produced a strong team performance.
“We were the better team in the first half and fully deserved to go at the break ahead. In the second half, increased the pressure on our goal and we had to be strong until the end as a goal for them would have reopened the tie but we defended very well and we are still on course to reach the group stages.”
Next up for Apollon is a tie against Danish side FC Midtylland who reached the play off round after ousting Arka Gdynia, of Poland, on the away goals’ rule.
Schembri said that Apollon were pleased to have drawn the Danes.
“I think Midtylland were the weakest side in our pot. We could have picked Everton or Athletic Bilbao so we should be happy with the draw,” Schembri said.
“Still, we are not underestimating them. Midtylland have some quality players in their squad such as Dutchman Rafael Van Der Vaart so we are bracing ourselves for a difficult tie.”
Schembri was forced to limp out of the match after 66 minutes due to a tight hamstring but the Malta international said that he was substituted as a precaution.
“I felt a bit of tightness and my coach didn’t want to take any chances and he decided to bring in another player,” Schembri said.
“We have some very important matches coming up, starting with the Super Cup clash against FC APOEL on Wednesday and he wanted to make sure that I will recover in time for that match.”
Since joining Apollon last month, Schembri has had a new lease of life as he found little difficult to settle in the new surroundings.
The former Boavista forward has established himself in the team’s starting formation, scoring three goals in four Euro outings so far.
“Things have gone very well for me so far,” Schembri said.
“Apollon are a very organized side and the fact that I knew a lot of the players that are here surely helped me a lot to settle quickly.
“Added to that I am playing in my preferred position, just behind the striker, and that has surely benefitted me.
“Hopefully I can keep it going and help the club to reach its goals this season.”