Beersheba earns first-leg draw in Greece

Israeli champion on track to continue improbable European run after holding Olympiacos scoreless.

By
July 28, 2016 00:00
3 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba captain Elyaniv Barda (left) may not have scored last night, but was still delighte

Hapoel Beersheba captain Elyaniv Barda (left) may not have scored last night, but was still delighted with his team’s 0-0 first-leg draw on the road against Luka Milivojevic (5) and Greek champion Olympiacos in Champions League qualifying action.. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Hapoel Beersheba’s Champions League dream is alive and kicking after registering a 0-0 draw against Olympiacos in Athens on Wednesday in the first leg of the third qualifying round.

Beersheba entered the tie as a firm underdog, with the six-time reigning Greek champion aiming to reach the group stage for a sixth straight year.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


However, Beersheba proved it has what it takes to overcome the Greek powerhouse and perhaps even reach the group stage in its first season in the competition with a disciplined display.

Beersheba registered just one attempt on target on Wednesday, but it was first and foremost focused on containing Olympiacos in the first leg and it did that almost to perfection. Goalkeeper Dudu Goresh was barely troubled, and did well when he was, and Beersheba will enter the return leg at Turner Stadium next Wednesday knowing a win will send it through to the final playoff round.

Beersheba had to dig deep to reach the third qualifying round, eking out a 0-0 draw at FC Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova last week after registering a 3-2 win in the first leg of the second qualifying round at Turner.

Prior to last week, the last time Beersheba progressed in continental play was in the 1997/98 season when it overcame Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania in the qualifying round of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

After winning its first European tie in nearly two decades, and with a berth in the Europa League playoffs to fall back on, Beersheba entered Wednesday’s match pressure free and it showed.

The Israeli champion enjoyed plenty of the possession in the first 20 minutes, and while it struggled to create scoring opportunities, it was frustrating the hosts.

It took Olympiacos 20 minutes to register its first chance, with Greek international Kostas Fortounis having his powerful effort denied by an alert Goresh.


Olympiacos began to dictate the play, but Beersheba did well to limit the host’s chances and was delighted to enter the break in a goalless deadlock, with some of the local fans booing their team off the pitch.

The second half began in a similar fashion to the way the first ended, with Olympiacos controlling the possession, but only rarely troubling Goresh.

A Fortounis free kick three minutes after the restart was calmly collected by Goresh and Beersheba and its goalkeeper breathed a sigh of relief in the 57th minute when Swedish international Jimmy Durmaz squandered a good opportunity when he ballooned his set piece from the edge of the box in what was his final contribution before being substituted.

Olympiacos increased the pressure as the match progressed, but couldn’t find a precious winner, with Goresh coming up with a superb save to deny Luka Milivojevic in the 89th minute.

Anthony Nwakaeme then recorded Beersheba’s only shot on target, and even though it was saved Beersheba will be delighted ahead of the next week’s second leg.

Wednesday’s match was the start of 15 hectic days for Beersheba. The team plays Hapoel Ashkelon in its Toto Cup opener on Saturday before welcoming Olympiacos at Turner on Wednesday.

It will then play three matches in five days, facing Beitar Jerusalem and Ashdod SC in the Toto Cup on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively, before coming up against State Cup holder Maccabi Haifa in the Super Cup on Thursday.

Beersheba is looking to become the sixth Israeli team to play in the Champions League group stage. Maccabi Tel Aviv qualified last season for the second time in club history (2004/05, 2015/16), with Hapoel Tel Aviv reaching the prestigious stage in 2010/11 and Maccabi Haifa doing so twice (2002/03, 2009/10) in the past.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a diplomatic conference, December 10th, 2018
December 10, 2018
Netanyahu announces Oman allowed El Al to utilize its airspace

By HERB KEINON