(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to Israel on Friday afternoon after its thrilling 4-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in a UEFA Cup match on Thursday night.
A win for Hapoel in its final Group G match against Czech side Mlada Boleslav on December 13 will secure the side a top-three finish and a place in the next round.
"This was the biggest victory of my career. We showed a lot of character and determination, especially after they equalized. We did something special which Hapoel Tel Aviv has not done for a while," Tel Aviv midfielder Salim Toema said.
"This reminds me of [another] amazing UEFA Cup run we had, but I just hope we finish the job and secure qualification for the next stage," added Toema, who was part of Hapoel's 2001/02 UEFA Cup team that reached the quarterfinals.
Toema scored the first goal for Hapoel in the second minute of the match on Thursday night with a powerful, left-footed shot and quickly got a second score just four minutes later after a mistake by the French squad's 'keeper.
PSG fought back and Pierre-Alain Frau got a goal back for the hosts in the 14th minute.
Eleven minutes later, Portuguese striker Pedro Pauleta headed in an equalizer and Hapoel was on the ropes.
However, a minute before halftime, Walid Badier gave the visitors the lead once again and an Elyaniv Barda's goal in the 57th minute settled the match.
"This is unforgettable - a great night. This is the Hapoel I want to see," coach Yitzhak Schum said. "There is no better feeling than completing a job, winning here and taking the decider back home. Victory in our next match will secure qualification."
After the match ended, anti-Semitic and racist behavior outside the stadium resulted in one dead French fan and one wounded. A policeman attempting to protect a French Jew shot into the crowd of right-wing PSG supporters.
Hapoel players and staff were unaware of the incident as it was happening and only heard of it later.