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You can't help but feel sorry for Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Guy Luzon. As if his team's position at the bottom of the Premier League standings wasn't bad enough, now the coach has to find a way to lift his side from an embarrassing performance in the UEFA Cup ahead of its biggest match of the season.
A mediocre performance by Tottenham Hotspur was more than enough for the team to defeat Hapoel 2-0 in the UEFA Cup group stage at Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday night.
Luzon had hoped prior to the match that his players would be able to put their poor league form aside and perhaps raise their play for the UEFA Cup. Thursday's display, however, was just another in a long list of poor performances by Luzon's team and places even more pressure on the coach ahead his side's crucial derby match against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday night.
"Tottenham is out of our league," Luzon said after the match. "We posed no threat after going 2-0 down. The better team won tonight. I have no doubt that we will look much better in the derby. We will do all we can to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv."
Many Hapoel fans showed their dissatisfaction with the club by not even bothering to show up Thursday, and those who did attend spent most of the evening calling for Luzon's resignation.
Thursday's loss was Hapoel's sixth straight in European and league play and means the team is now rock bottom of both its UEFA Cup group and the league standings.
Hapoel, which lost 2-0 to Anderlecht in its first match of the group stage two weeks ago, visits Getafe on November 29 in a match where anything short of a win will end the team's already measly chance of extending its European campaign past the group stage.
Robbie Keane gave the visitors the lead in the 26th minute with a powerful volley from five meters out. The match was settled five minutes later when Dimitar Berbatov headed in his side's second goal.
Hapoel ended the match with 10-men after Gal Shish picked up his second booking in the 50th minute.
The hosts got off to an encouraging start and had the first chance of the match in the eighth minute. Bibres Natcho released a dangerous shot with his left foot that went just wide of Paul Robinson's goal.
Ten minutes later Natcho again had a shot on goal, but Robinson was well placed to catch it.
The visitors took control of the center of the field as the match progressed and scored with their first real chance. Keane's good finish from Steed Malbranque's cross gave Hapoel 'keeper Vincent Enyeama no chance and put the North London club in the lead.
Five minutes later Tottenham doubled its advantage. Once more Malbranque was given plenty of time on the left flank and he crossed an accurate ball that was turned in by Berbatov.
In the 39th minute, only good fortune and a referee's mistake saved Hapoel from conceding a third goal. Enyeama did well to save Berbatov's first shot and Polish referee Grzegorz Gilewski failed to spot Gabriel dos Santos clearing Keane's subsequent shot with his hand.
The visitors created scoring chances at will, and two minutes before the interval Pascal Chimbonda's header flew just centimeters wide of the Tel Aviv goal.
Luzon may have thought at the break that matters couldn't get any worse, but he was wrong. At the start of the second half his team was down to 10-men after Shish received his second yellow card for a foul from behind on Aaron Lennon.
Luckily for Hapoel, Tottenham was content with its two-goal cushion and rarely threatened in the second half.
"This was a typical UEFA Cup match," Spurs manager Juande Ramos said. "We desperately needed the win and we got it despite not playing at our best."