European Soccer: Hamburg overwhelms Hap Tel Aviv

European Soccer Hamburg

There's no shame in losing to Hamburg in Germany, but Hapoel Tel Aviv will be kicking itself after Thursday's 4-2 defeat in the Europa League. Hapoel never gave itself a realistic chance of leaving the Hamburg Arena with even a point, falling to a 2-0 deficit after just 12 minutes and shooting itself in the foot twice after managing to close the margin to 2-1 and 3-2. Left back Dedi Ben-Dayan was the main culprit, but coach Eli Gutman will be ruing his entire team's disastrous defending, which ended any hope Hapoel may have had of building on its 2-1 victory over Celtic in its group opener two weeks ago. In Thursday's other Group C game Celtic was held 1-1 by Rapid Vienna in Glasgow. Hapoel was pressured to its goal from the start in Germany and dug itself into a hole after a catastrophic first 12 minutes. Four minutes into the encounter, Marcus Berg turned in the box and released a sensational shot from a tight angle which gave Hapoel 'keeper Vincent Enyeama no chance. Mladen Petric should have doubled the Germans' lead four minutes later when he was left all alone at the center of the box, but his missed header was quickly forgotten after Berg struck again. Tel Aviv practically invited the hosts forward by sitting back, leaving the Swedish international unmarked and with no trouble heading in his second goal in eight minutes from Dennis Aogo's cross. The visitors were in complete shock and only the crossbar saved them from conceding a third goal in the 17th minute. Eljero Elia found space on the edge of his box, but the woodwork denied his curling shot. Coach Eli Gutman was left with no real option but to make a very early substitution following his team's terrible start to the encounter and Itai Shechter's introduction actually gave Tel Aviv hope for at least a few minutes. Gutman brought on the 22-year-old forward in place of defensive midfielder Zurab Menteshashvili in the 28th minute, and nine minutes later Shechter got himself on the score sheet. Bibras Natcho's excellent cross was turned into the back of the net by an even better Shechter header and suddenly Tel Aviv was back in the match. Just three minutes later, however, some dreadful defending gifted Hamburg another goal and ended any illusions Hapoel may have had of leaving Germany with a point. Ben-Dayan sent his clearance into the center of the box and Elia smashed the ball beyond a helpless Enyeama. Hamburg was content with its two goal cushion at the beginning of the second half and allowed Hapoel to control the possession. The Germans would pay the price for their lax attitude in the 62nd minute. Enyeama sent a superb goal kick into the path of Shechter and watched as the striker surged into the Hamburg box and laid the ball off perfectly for Samuel Yeboah to bring Hapoel once more within one goal of the hosts. But, just like after its first goal, Hapoel's back line got the team into trouble again. Ben-Dayan was once more the man to blame, inexplicably sending his throw in towards his own goal, resulting in a Walid Badier foul on Berg. The referee had no option but to award Hamburg a penalty and show the veteran defender a red card as Badier was the last man on defense. Enyeama came to his team's rescue by saving Ze Roberto's spot kick, but with 10-men it was only a matter of time until the hosts clinched the victory. Ze Roberto made up for his earlier miss in the 78th minute with a nice left-footed finish, ensuring a home victory and a Hapoel loss.