(photo credit: AP)
Charlie Adam of Glasgow Rangers celebrates after scoring in injury time against Hapoel Tel Aviv during Rangers' 4-0 victory in the second leg of their UEFA Cup third round tie in Glasgow on Thursday. Glasgow advanced to the round of 16 with a 5-2 aggregate win. (Jon Super/AP)
A deflated Hapoel Tel Aviv arrived back in Israel on Friday afternoon bitterly disappointed from its performance against Glasgow Rangers in the second leg of the UEFA Cup third round.
Tel Aviv was thumped 4-0 in Scotland and was knocked out of the competition, losing 5-2 on aggregate. The Israelis were second best all night long and never really arrived at Ibrox. Two goals in 11 first half minutes broke Hapoel's spirit and allowed Rangers to cruise for the remainder of the match, despite seeing their goalkeeper sent off in the 73rd minute.
"We should have reacted differently after Rangers took an early lead, but we couldn't create scoring opportunities," Hapoel coach Nir Levin said. "We tried to mount a comeback at 3-0. I introduced attacking players and we had our chances, but that left our defense wide open.
Levin thought that his team underperformed. "Even if we would have played at 70% of our ability, there would have been a different outcome," he added.
Rangers captain Barry Ferguson gave his team the lead in the 24th minute when he hammered in Nacho Novo's cross from the edge of the area.
Eleven minutes later, usually dependable Tel Aviv captain Yossi Abuksis foolishly tried to play the ball across his own box, only for his pass to hit Kris Boyd, who made slotted his shot past 'keeper Shavit Elimelech.
The hosts put the tie beyond any doubt in the 72nd minute when substitute Dado Prso crossed the ball for Ferguson, who scored his second of the match.
Rangers were down to 10 men immediately following the goal after 'keeper Allan McGregor received his marching orders following an altercation with Hapoel substitute Luciano De Bruno.
However, the hosts weren't done scoring and Charlie Adam notched his team's fourth of the match in injury time.
"We're delighted. I thought it was an extremely good performance from us," Rangers manager Walter Smith said. "Overall, I felt we had a really good night and played very well.
"There were some outstanding individual performances. I don't like to pick them out but I felt Barry Ferguson, who was given the man of the match, was outstanding again - not just for his goals, but for the way in which he carried out his performance tonight.
"He had a fantastic evening. He's been playing exceptionally well for us. He got his two goals which were the icing on the cake. His performance was fantastic."
Hapoel 'keeper Elimelech tried to stay positive after the match and was encouraged by the overall picture despite Thursday night's disappointing display. "This wasn't a typical 4-0 match," he said.
"Nothing went our way and everything worked out for them. Nevertheless, we can't forget that we have had a great European season. We reached the group stage of the competition and we advanced from the group and defeated Rangers at home."
The loss in Scotland may also have repercussions on the remainder of Hapoel Tel Aviv's Premier League campaign after defender Javier Paes clashed with Levin over being excluded from Thursday's starting lineup.
The Argentinian, who had anchored Hapoel's defense since the start of the season, reacted angrily to Levin's decision and will face a club disciplinary committee this week.