Hap Tel Aviv takes crucial first leg lead

A goal by Brazilian substitute Luciano De Bruno in the 73rd minute gave Hapoel a precious away win.

Hapoel TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv took a huge step towards the group stage of the UEFA Cup on Thursday night after defeating Chornomorets Odessa 1-0 in Ukraine. A goal by Brazilian substitute Luciano De Bruno in the 73rd minute gave Hapoel a precious away win that puts the Israelis in the driving seat ahead of the second leg in two weeks time. Tel Aviv will likely learn on Friday where it will host its home tie, as UEFA is expected to make an announcement regarding the playing of European matches in Israel. Hapoel had four outstanding chances to take the lead in the first, but the team squandered all of them and very nearly paid the price. Odessa seized control of the match in the second half and even scored a goal, which luckily for Hapoel was disallowed for an offside. De Bruno scored the only goal of the match 18 minutes later, puting coach Yitzhak Schum 90 minutes away from taking an Israeli team to the group stage of a European competition for a second time. Schum helped Maccabi Haifa to the group stage of the Champions League in the 2002/2003 season and is clearly putting his European experience from his time with Haifa and later with Greek giants Panathinaikos to good use. Odessa began the match well, but after 11 minutes Hapoel had the first chance. Salim Toema found himself all alone in front of Odessa goalkeeper Gennadiy Altman but hit a horrible shot that went wide of the post. Tel Aviv continued to find space in the host's box and Baruch Dego should have given his team the lead in the 22nd minute. The midfielder only had the keeper to beat but hit his shot straight at Altman, who cleared the ball for a corner. Five minutes before half-time Dego squandered another good scoring opportunity. The former Israeli international only needed to chip the ball over a kneeling Altman. However he once more managed to hit the keeper with his shot. Odessa seized the initiative at the start of the second half and began to threaten the goal of Hapoel keeper Shavit Elimelech. In the 55th minute Odessa striker Serhiy Shyshchenko smashed the ball into the net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Eight minutes later Hapoel took the lead against the run of play. Toema passed the ball to De Bruno who casually rolled it under the Odessa keeper. The Ukrainians pushed forward in search of an equalizer but were unable to crack the Tel Aviv defense and the reds held on for a crucial victory. In other UEFA Cup games, Jermaine Jenas gave England's Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 victory over Slavia Prague and Newcastle United beat FC Levadia Tallinn, both away from home. Irish side Derry City held French team PSG 0-0. Also playing in the UEFA Cup Thursday night was Israeli champion Maccabi Haifa who "hosted" Bulgarian side Litex Lovech in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.