Hapoel trips up at home vs Ashdod SC

Reigning champion misses golden opportunity to climb on top of Premier League standings for first time this season.

November 29, 2010 06:27
2 minute read.
HAPOEL TEL AVIV midfielder Gili Vermut (seen above

HAPOEL TEL AVIV 311. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

Hapoel Tel Aviv was brought back down to earth in painful fashion on Sunday night, losing 2-0 to Ashdod SC at Bloomfield Stadium just four days after claiming an historic Champions League victory over SL Benfica.

The reigning champion could have climbed to the top of the Premier League standings for the first time this season with three points, but after snatching the win against a dominant Benfica last week, got a taste of its own medicine from Ashdod.

The visitors were on the back foot for much of Sunday’s encounter, but maintained a clean sheet and hit Hapoel on the break twice in the second half on the way to the biggest upset in the league this season.

“I couldn’t get my players to the level of concentration needed for a league match,” said coach Eli Gutman, who accepted the blame for the defeat. “We had a lot of chances at the start of the match, but it was one of those days. We need to accept this defeat and learn from it. We need to know how to maintain our composure in Europe and in the league. If you lose your concentration for one moment you pay the price.”

After riding its luck for most of the first half, Ashdod went ahead seven minutes after the break.

Moshe Ohayon crossed the corner and Stephane Kingue’s header at the near post caught everyone by surprise.

Tel Aviv remained in complete control of the possession, but Ashdod ’keeper Yossi Shekel was in inspired form.

In the 61st minute he cleared Itai Shechter’s header with a great instinctive save, with Toto Tamuz having his shot blocked 11 minutes later.

In the 88th minute, Ashdod clinched the win.

Avihai Yadin tripped Uri Megebo in the box and Ohayon stepped up to emphatically convert the spot kick and give Ashdod a memorable victory.

“They had an amazing victory against Benfica, but we did to Hapoel the same they did to the Portuguese in the Champions League,” Ashdod coach John Gregory said. “We knew we would have to sit back for large periods and hopefully get something on the break. It’s an amazing victory.”

On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Netanya.

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