(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Champions League campaign went from bad to worse on Wednesday
The reigning Premier League and State Cup holder was humbled 3-1
by Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, its third defeat in three group
There were hopes Hapoel would be able to be a true challenger in
Group B after it was drawn with Benfica, Olympique Lyon and
However, after losing 2-0 at Benfica and 3-1 to Lyon, Tel Aviv
was truly outplayed by Schalke on Wednesday, leaving it bottom of the group with
zero points and a combined 2-8 goal difference.
An Israeli team hasn’t
picked up a point in European soccer’s most prestigious competition since
December 8, 2004 when Maccabi Tel Aviv drew 1-1 with Juventus.
Haifa became the first team in Champions League history to end the group stage
without taking a point or scoring a goal last season.
Hapoel found itself
with a mountain to climb less than three minutes into Wednesday’s encounter
following Raul’s early goal, and it never really came close to
Raul and Jurado secured Schalke’s win with two goals in 10
second-half minutes and Itai Shechter’s stoppage time strike was just Hapoel’s
second attempt on goal and was of little consolation to the Reds.
conceded a needless early goal, but after that we played a good first half,”
said Hapoel coach Eli Gutman, whose team will host Schalke in two weeks time.
“Our play in the final third was poor, but the difference between the Israeli
and European teams is in the little things. You give Raul a tenth of a second
and you’re taking the ball out of the back of the net.”
Any game plan
Gutman had was rendered almost meaningless after less than three
Douglas da Silva fell asleep at the center of the Hapoel defense
and Raul had all the time in the world to slot in the opener past goalkeeper
The early goal allowed Schalke to sit back and the hosts
were in complete control. The Reds struggled to penetrate the Germans formation
and seemed to always be a step slower than their opponents.
Huntelaar spent the evening terrorizing Hapoel, coming close in the 20th and
26th minutes when Enyeama did well to block his shot.
Two minutes later,
Hapoel registered its first attempt when Toto Tamuz shot wide of Manuel Neuer’s
goal. As the half progressed Tel Aviv began to find its rhythm, with Shechter
causing Schalke all kinds of problems.
Two minutes before the break, Omri
Kende recorded Hapoel’s first shot on goal, but Neuer saved easily and the hosts
had the final chance of the half, with Enyeama keeping out a dangerous Huntelaar
It took Raul less than two minutes to threaten Enyeama’s goal in
the second half, but the Hapoel ’keeper was up to the task once
However, it was only a matter of time until Schalke scored its
second goal of the night. Huntelaar hit the crossbar twice within several
seconds in the 57th minute, but the woodwork would not come to Tel Aviv’s rescue
A swift passing sequence ended with the ball at Raul’s
feet and the Spanish legend had no trouble tucking away his second goal of the
Raul’s brace broke the hearts of the Hapoel players and fans,
and the visitors were beginning to look helpless.
Enyeama had to be at
his best to save attempts by Ivan Rakitic and Jose Manuel Jurado, but the latter
would have the final laugh in the 68th minute.
His perfectly placed shot
gave Hapoel’s Nigerian ’keeper no chance and Shechter’s 93rd minute goal was of