Hap TA now a perfect 3-for-3 in futility

Reds firmly entrenched in group cellar after another defeat, this time 3-1 to Schalke 04.

Enyema 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Enyema 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Champions League campaign went from bad to worse on Wednesday night.
The reigning Premier League and State Cup holder was humbled 3-1 by Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, its third defeat in three group matches.
There were hopes Hapoel would be able to be a true challenger in Group B after it was drawn with Benfica, Olympique Lyon and Schalke.
However, after losing 2-0 at Benfica and 3-1 to Lyon, Tel Aviv was truly outplayed by Schalke on Wednesday, leaving it bottom of the group with zero points and a combined 2-8 goal difference.
An Israeli team hasn’t picked up a point in European soccer’s most prestigious competition since December 8, 2004 when Maccabi Tel Aviv drew 1-1 with Juventus.
Maccabi Haifa became the first team in Champions League history to end the group stage without taking a point or scoring a goal last season.
Hapoel found itself with a mountain to climb less than three minutes into Wednesday’s encounter following Raul’s early goal, and it never really came close to equalizing.
Raul and Jurado secured Schalke’s win with two goals in 10 second-half minutes and Itai Shechter’s stoppage time strike was just Hapoel’s second attempt on goal and was of little consolation to the Reds.
“We conceded a needless early goal, but after that we played a good first half,” said Hapoel coach Eli Gutman, whose team will host Schalke in two weeks time. “Our play in the final third was poor, but the difference between the Israeli and European teams is in the little things. You give Raul a tenth of a second and you’re taking the ball out of the back of the net.”
Any game plan Gutman had was rendered almost meaningless after less than three minutes.
Douglas da Silva fell asleep at the center of the Hapoel defense and Raul had all the time in the world to slot in the opener past goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The early goal allowed Schalke to sit back and the hosts were in complete control. The Reds struggled to penetrate the Germans formation and seemed to always be a step slower than their opponents.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar spent the evening terrorizing Hapoel, coming close in the 20th and 26th minutes when Enyeama did well to block his shot.
Two minutes later, Hapoel registered its first attempt when Toto Tamuz shot wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal. As the half progressed Tel Aviv began to find its rhythm, with Shechter causing Schalke all kinds of problems.
Two minutes before the break, Omri Kende recorded Hapoel’s first shot on goal, but Neuer saved easily and the hosts had the final chance of the half, with Enyeama keeping out a dangerous Huntelaar effort.
It took Raul less than two minutes to threaten Enyeama’s goal in the second half, but the Hapoel ’keeper was up to the task once more.
However, it was only a matter of time until Schalke scored its second goal of the night. Huntelaar hit the crossbar twice within several seconds in the 57th minute, but the woodwork would not come to Tel Aviv’s rescue moments later.
A swift passing sequence ended with the ball at Raul’s feet and the Spanish legend had no trouble tucking away his second goal of the encounter.
Raul’s brace broke the hearts of the Hapoel players and fans, and the visitors were beginning to look helpless.
Enyeama had to be at his best to save attempts by Ivan Rakitic and Jose Manuel Jurado, but the latter would have the final laugh in the 68th minute.
His perfectly placed shot gave Hapoel’s Nigerian ’keeper no chance and Shechter’s 93rd minute goal was of little importance.