Euro Soccer: Hap TA sole Israeli team to stay alive

Reds advance in UEFA Cup as Maccabi Netanya and Maccabi Tel Aviv are knocked out.

hapoel tel aviv 224.88 (photo credit: )
hapoel tel aviv 224.88
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv is the only Israeli team left in European competition. The reds eased into the UEFA Cup first round on Thursday, beating Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium and 6-0 on aggregate, while Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya were both knocked out. Hapoel coach Guy Luzon was clearly happy to put the troubles of the first leg behind him. Hapoel was fined 30,000 euros this week after Hapoel fans forced the match in Bosnia two weeks ago to be suspended for 20 minutes due to crowd trouble. In contrast to Hapoel's success, cross town rival Maccabi Tel Aviv's season went from bad to worse, when it lost to Turkish second division outfit Erciyesspor 3-1 on Thursday night and 4-2 on aggregate. Israel national Under-21 team coach Guy Levy has been strongly rumored to be taking over from Eli Cohen at Maccabi after Cohen was fired last week. But Levy may be having second thoughts after Thursday's performance. Netanya put up much more of a fight. After drawing 0-0 with UD Leiria in Portugal Reuven Atar's side attacked for much of Thursday's "home" leg, played at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in Haifa, but eventually lost out 1-0 to an 85th minute goal. The draw for the UEFA Cup first round will be held on Friday. Hapoel Tel Aviv could be drawn against any number of top European sides, including Tottenham Hotspur, and Atletico Madrid. Hapoel Tel Aviv 3, Siroki Brijeg 0 Despite the slow tempo, the hosts took the lead in the 42nd minute. With jubilant Hapoel Tel Aviv fans celebrating archrival Maccabi Tel Aviv's loss, Lior Asulin doubled their joy with a clever close range header. Hapoel showed no signs of stopping after the break. The hard work paid off in the 50th minute, with Walid Badier scoring the second. Luzon then introduced forward Bibras Natkho to bolster his attack. The move paid dividends in the 75th minute, when the substitute dribbled past his markers and drilled in the third goal of the game. Erciyesspor 3, Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 Caretaker coach Viki Peretz decided to shake up his starting line up ahead of the crucial fixture with Frenchman Rudy Haddad promoted to the first eleven. The Turks stunned the visitors with a quickfire double in the opening minutes. Ilhan Ozbay opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a close range drive. Koskal Yedek doubled his team's lead just eight minutes later. Avi Nimni kept the yellow-and-blue in the game with some slick passes in midfield. One smart move turned into an assist in the 40th minute, when Hadad converted from point blank range to pull one back. Tel Aviv opened the second half with a series of raids on the host's goal, but failed to take advantage due to its strikers poor finishing. Allattin Oztekin sealed the fate of the game in the 72nd minute, scoring off a counter attack. Peretz inserted all his reserve attackers in the closing stages of the encounter, but the Turks managed to destroy the Israelis' raids with ease. Around 8,000 fans at the Kayseri Ataturk stadium celebrated the historic win. Maccabi Netanya 0, UD Leiria 1 Netanya's first ever European campaign was brought to a premature end. The team was confident of advancing after drawing 0-0 on the road two weeks ago, but an 84th minute goal by Serge N'dal shattered the side's dream. Netanya got off to the brighter start and registered two shots on goal within the first seven minutes of the match. It took Leiria 14 minutes to create its first scoring opportunity, with Alhandra only just missing the Netanya goal with a header from the center of the box. The hosts dominated the play at the start of the second half and twice came close to taking the lead. In the 50th minute Avi Strul's header was only kept out of goal by a keeper Fernando's excellent lunge. Ten minutes later Amir Taga did well to meet Dedi Ben-Dayan's cross in mid-air, but the visitors' keeper was well placed and collected the ball. A good team move was finished off by N'gal, who slotted the ball into Strauber's bottom right corner with his left foot.