European Soccer: Hap Tel Aviv impresses in UEFA Cup

Eli Gutman's Reds defeat Juvenes/Dogana 3-0; Kiryat Shmona held 1-1 by Mogren.

hapoel TA soccer 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
hapoel TA soccer 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv effectively clinched its place in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup on Thursday, but Ironi Kiryat Shmona faces an uphill battle in its return leg in two week's time. Hapoel easily defeated Juvenes/ Dogana of San Marino 3-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round at Rishon Lezion and shouldn't have trouble overcoming the amateur side away from home in the second leg in two week's time. "We should have won the match by a much bigger margin," Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said after his team had gone 3-0 up before half time. Kiryat Shmona took an 18th minute lead against Montenegran side Mogren at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in Haifa. But the match ended in a 1-1 tie after the visitors seized control following the sending-off of defender Yaniv Lavi in the 24th minute and equalized eight minutes from time. "I'm disappointed," Ironi coach Michel Dayan said. "We were the better team until the sending off and it's very important not to concede in these types of matches. We need to score on the road and we will do so and win in Montenegro." At Rishon, where Hapoel was playing due to construction work currently taking place at Bloomfield Stadium, the hosts dominated from the first whistle and went in front in the 16th minute. Right-back Omri Canada picked out Idan Srur in the box and the midfielder easily tucked in the opener. Hapoel doubled its advantage in the 27th minute when Bibres Natcho's cross was headed into the top left corner by defender Yigal Antebi. Six minutes later Srur scored his second goal of the match, slotting the ball past the keeper from the edge of the box with the help of a deflection. "Gutman told me to move into the box as much as possible and when you do that you score," said Srur after the match. Kiryat Shmona, which was playing in Haifa as its home field doesn't meet UEFA standards, scored the opener in the 18th minute thanks to some poor defending by Mogren. The Montenegrans failed to clear a corner and new signing Omer Peretz was well placed to give the hosts the lead. The match turned on its head in the 24th minute when Lavi, the team's captain, bungled a clearance and made matters even worse by fouling Ivica Osmic from behind. Referee Bülent Yıldırım had no option but to show the Israeli the red card as he was the last man on defense. The sending off completely changed the match and Mogren began to dictate play. The visitors were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 82nd minute when Milenko Neric headed in the equalizer after Kiryat Shmona failed to deal with a Mogren set-piece. "It was very difficult for us to play with 10 men for so long at this stage of the season," said Ironi midfielder Guy Tzarfati. "It's a shame we conceded an equalizer towards the end of the match, but we feel that we're the better team and we will win the return leg."