Hip, hip hooray for Hap TA!

Reds become first Israeli club since ’04 to triumph in CL with 3-0 blanking of Benfica.

November 25, 2010 05:40
3 minute read.
HAPOEL TEL AVIV’S Eran Zehavi, Douglas da Silva

Hapoel Tel Aviv Eran Zehavi, Douglas da Silva311. (photo credit: AP)


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Hapoel Tel Aviv claimed a first Champions League victory in club history on Wednesday night, defeating SL Benfica 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium despite being totally dominated during the entire match.

Hapoel registered just two shots on target in the first 75 minutes of the match, but both would find the back of the net and Eran Zehavi would wrap up the scoring with his second goal of the night in stoppage time.

Zehavi headed the hosts into the lead in the 24th minute before Douglas da Silva scored the team’s second goal in the 74th minute to break Benfica, which was in complete control at every stage of the encounter.

Benfica had 24 total attempts at goal, eight of them on target, but Tel Aviv still somehow managed to maintain a clean sheet on its way to an historic victory, a first for an Israeli club in European soccer’s premier competition since Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Ajax 2-1 on November 3, 2004.

Benfica looked to dominate from the start, pressuring Hapoel and denying the Israeli champs their typical freeflowing passing game.

The visitors began to bombard Vincent Enyeama’s goal as early as the second minute and continued to do so for the entire first half.

Alan Kardec, Nicolas Gaitan and Javier Saviola all had their chances in the first six minutes of the encounter, with Benfica seemingly creating scoring opportunities at will.

Hapoel fans had to wait until the 21st minute before seeing their team register its first real chance, with Gili Vermut shooting just wide from 20 meters out after a slick move.

Three minutes later, with the visitors still in complete control, Tel Aviv astonishingly found the back of the net.

Shay Abutbul’s free kick from 25 meters out was met by Zehavi’s head and the ball deflected off David Luiz on its way into the top left corner.

Zehavi’s goal gave Hapoel its first lead of the Champions League campaign, but the coincidental strike didn’t faze the Portuguese, who remained utterly in charge in the remainder of the half.

Kardec squandered a golden opportunity to equalize three minutes after Benfica went behind, but with only Enyeama to beat, he sent his shot wide of goal.

Benfica virtually camped out in the Hapoel half in the final 20 minutes of the half, creating a massive 12 corners.

However, some desperate defending by Tel Aviv kept the visitors at bay and Hapoel went into the break still in front.

The second half began in the exact same way the first ended, with Benfica laying siege on Enyeama’s goal.

Hapoel’s Nigerian ’keeper was beaten by Luisao’s header in the 53rd minute, but Abutbul was perfectly placed to clear the ball off the line.

In the 61st minute, even defender Javi Garcia got his chance against Enyeama, but the ’keeper was once more well placed to collect the ball.

Four more minutes passed and this time the visitors only had themselves to blame for not tying the score, with Kardec somehow failing to find the target with his header from close range.

Forty-five minutes after scoring, Hapoel at last shot towards goal in the 69th minute, with Dedi Ben-Dayan’s effort going just wide of Roberto’s upright.

Incredibly, five minutes later Tel Aviv doubled its margin.

Benfica couldn’t cope with Zehavi’s corner and Douglas da Silva was on hand to tuck in Tel Aviv’s second goal of the night.

The Portuguese champion continued to push forward in search of goals for the remainder of the encounter, but by this stage they too realized that it wasn’t their night and Zehavi completed Hapoel’s remarkable victory in injury time.

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