The first opportunity of the game fell to the visitors on four minutes after APOEL gave the ball away in the middle of the park, allowing Shinji Kagawa to play Andriy Yarmolenko into space, but the striker blasted over the bar.
By the quarter-hour mark Dortmund were dominating proceedings but were nearly caught out in the 16th minute when the hosts launched a counter-attack which saw the ball crossed from the right towards Igor de Camargo at the near post, but he could only fire wide.
Neither side was able to find a breakthrough by the break, however, with the away team dominating possession but failing to seriously test their opponents, who in turn had the better of the last 15 minutes of the half.
APOEL went on to take the lead in the 62nd minute thanks in no small part to two mistakes by Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki, who gave possession away to the hosts in a dangerous position before spilling a shot into the path of Mickael Pote, who duly poked home.
Peter Bosz's charges equalised just five minutes later, however, when Mario Gotze's chipped ball into the box was well met by Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who sent a ferocious strike into the back of the net.