Hapoel slides to third qualifying round

1-0 brings Reds a step closer to CL group stage.

Itai Shechter Hapoel 311 (photo credit: Assaf Kilger)
Itai Shechter Hapoel 311
(photo credit: Assaf Kilger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv secured its progress to the third qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday night, beating FK Zeljeznicar 1-0 in Sarajevo to complete a 6-0 aggregate victory.
After scoring five goals in 28 minutes against the Bosnian champion at Bloomfield Stadium last week, there was little doubt Hapoel would advance to the third qualifying round.
Coach Eli Gutman started the same lineup he used in the first leg, but Hapoel played at a pedestrian pace throughout the encounter in Bosnia.
Nevertheless, Tel Aviv would score the only goal of the night, with Douglas da Silva finding the back of the net in the 76th minute.
Hapoel will visit FK Aktobe in the first leg of third qualifying round next week, after the Kazakh champion completed a 3-1 aggregate victory over FC Olimpi Rustavi of Georgia on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 on the road.
Tel Aviv should have Israeli striker Ben Sahar at its disposal by next week, with the 20-year-old announcing on Wednesday that he is joining the Reds on-loan from Spanish club Espanyol.
Hapoel and Espanyol have yet to reach an official agreement, but the Israeli champion is expected to pay around 100,000 euros for a one-year loan, while also receiving 10 percent of any future sale of the striker.
“I’m going to play for Hapoel Tel Aviv,” Sahar said in Spanish in a specially arranged press conference. “I’m a little sad because I wanted to continue and play here. But after I spoke to the coach and the [club] president I understood that the situation is very difficult.
They told me that it will be very difficult for me to play this season. I’m young and I have to play every match.
That is very important for me.”
Despite not turning 21 until next month, Sahar will be joining the seventh club of his career.
Sahar grew up at the Hapoel youth system before signing with Chelsea in 2006. He failed to make an impression in London, making just three appearances for the club, while going out onloan on four separate occasions.
Sahar played a total of 21 league game for both QPR and Sheffield Wednesday of the English Championship in the 2007/08 season and failed to make a single official appearance at Portsmouth, which he joined on loan in the following campaign.
The Holon native scored five goals in 16 matches for Dutch club De Graafschap in the final six months of the 2008/09 season before moving to Espanyol for approximately 1 million euros.
Sahar featured in 23 La Liga matches last season, but scored just a single goal.
Hapoel managed comfortably without Sahar on Wednesday and never really broke out of second gear.
Itai Shechter reached the team’s first chance of the match in the eighth minute, but made a mess of his header from five meters out.
Zeljeznicar came closest to scoring in the first half 10 minutes later, but Muamer Svraka’s long range effort was centimeters too high and smashed off the crossbar.
The second half was played at an even slower pace than the first, but Hapoel would break the deadlock in the 76th minute.
Gili Vermut’s free kick found several Hapoel players in an offside position.
But da Silva was onside, and he slotted in the winner after a nice turn.