Hapoel Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hapoel Tel Aviv came tantalizingly close to advancing to the Europa League round of 32 on Tuesday night, drawing 2-2 at Olympique Lyon in its final match of Champions League Group B.
A stunning bicycle kick by Eran Zehavi in the 69th minute gave Hapoel a 2-1 lead at the Stade de Gerland, but Alexandre Lacazette would equalize two minutes from time and deny Tel Aviv the chance to leapfrog SL Benfica, which lost 2-1 to Schalke 04, into third position in the standings.
Nevertheless, Hapoel ended its continental campaign with an extremely impressive performance, becoming the first local side to avoid defeat away from home in the competition since Maccabi Haifa drew 3-3 at Olympiacos on November 13, 2002.
Lyon looked to dominate from the start and Hapoel seemed resigned to allow the hosts to control the possession.
It didn’t take the Frenchmen long to threaten Vincent Enyeama’s goal, with in-form striker Lisandro registering the first chance of the match after six minutes, shooting just wide of the left post.
Just like in its victory over Benfica two weeks ago, Tel Aviv relied on a combination of excellent defensive work and a little bit of luck to keep its opponent at bay, hoping to hit Lyon on the break when the chance arrived.
Moments after Enyeama kept out Miralem Pjanic’s powerful effort with an acrobatic save in the 28th minute, Ben Sahar, who came on for the injured Itai Shechter three minutes earlier, took advantage of a Lyon defensive mistake and picked out Toto Tamuz in the box, but the striker’s leftfooted shot was well saved by Hugo Lloris.
However, that proved to be Hapoel’s only real chance of the first half, with Lyon firing at Enyeama’s goal time and again.
In the 32nd minute, Enyeama had to be at his best to parry Jean Makoun’s rocket, with Cris’s header two minutes later getting the better of the visitors ’keeper, only for Gili Vermut to clear the ball off the line.
Bafetimbi Gomis and Makoun were only centimeters away from the breakthrough in the final five minutes of the half, but Hapoel would maintain a clean sheet until the break.
Lyon continued to pile the pressure at the start of the second half, with Enyeama frustrating Makoun once more with a super save four minutes after the interval.
Five minutes later, Vermut made Cris look silly, but after breezing past the Brazilian defender in the box he was denied by Lloris’s instinctive save.
In the 62nd minute, however, the hosts would get the reward for their dominance.
For once, Enyeama cleared the ball poorly and Lisandro was on hand to smash in the rebound.
But just one minute later, Hapoel would score a stunning equalizer.
Zehavi sliced the Lyon defense with his pass and Sahar slotted the ball past Lloris with an accurate left-footed effort.
Buoyed by its goal, Hapoel went in search of the lead, and after Sahar twice came close to his second goal of the night, Zehavi would score a truly memorable goal.
Salim Touma’s cross from the left flank seemed to be harmless, but Zehavi somehow twisted his body and released an unstoppable bicycle kick to put Tel Aviv in front.
Lyon immediately pushed ahead for the equalizer, but it struggled to break down the visitors defense.
Six minutes from time, Jimmy Briand released a swerving shot from 20 meters, but Enyeama was up for the task once more.
Two minutes later, the Nigerian impressed with yet another spectacular
save from Lisandoro, but in the 88th minute Lyon would tie the score.
Lacazette found space in the box and beat Enyeama to deny Hapoel a place in the Europa League.