Beitar Jerusalem .
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Beitar Jerusalem survived a nervy finish to win its first European tie in 15 years on Thursday night, beating Ordabasy Shymkent of Kazakhstan 2-1 at Teddy Stadium to claim an aggregate victory by the same scoreline in the first round of the Europa League qualifiers.
Beitar didn’t impress in its first match in continental competition in seven years last week, drawing 0-0 in the first leg in Kazakhstan.
However, the goalless deadlock put it in a promising position ahead of the return leg at Teddy and Beitar set up a meeting with Belgian outfit Charleroi in the second qualifying round.
Charleroi, which finished in sixth place in the Belgian league last season, will host the first leg next Thursday, with the second leg to be played at Teddy a week later.
Beitar will need to register a significant improvement on its performance against Shymkent to have any chance of going any further than the second qualifying round, although by next week its lineup could look very different.
New coach Slobodan Drapic has had little time to work with his squad, but his team did enough to progress on Thursday.
Omer Atzili gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute and new signing Dovev Gabay seemed to have settled the tie when he tucked the ball in from close range on the hour mark.
However, Beitar made life difficult for itself six minutes later when Kyrylo Petrov scored for Shymkent with its first shot on target.
A tense ending would ensue, but nothing was going to deny Jerusalem its place in the second qualifying round after Artem Kasyanov was sent off in stoppage time.
“We said before the tie that we haven’t got time to build the team, but the guys did a great job and they deserve every credit,” said Drapic. “We knew that Shymkent would be in better shape as they are midway through their season, but we did well. We need to take it one game at a time.”
Drapic will be hoping to have four additional players at his disposal for the first leg of the second qualifying round next week, with Shlomi Azulay set to return from injury and new signings Nisso Kapiloto, Romanian Vlad Morar and Spaniard Pablo de Lucas all expected to be available.
“Those are four significant players and they will give us some depth,” explained Drapic.
Captain Eli Dasa has been linked with a move to Maccabi Tel Aviv throughout the summer, but he insisted on Thursday that he wants to remain at Beitar.
“I’m not thinking about the offers I have. I want to stay at Beitar,” he said. “I made a statement by signing a three-year contract extension last season.
I want to continue and develop as a player at Beitar and there is no greater honor than being the captain of Beitar.”
Hapoel Beersheba will begin its participation in the Europa League second qualifying round next Thursday when it hosts Thun of Switzerland.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona will enter the competition in the third qualifying round, which will be followed by a playoff round for a place in the group stage.