Hapoel Tel Aviv settles for draw

Goals from Ogabona and Badier not enough against Rapid Bucharest; Glasgow Rangers beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0 to top Group A.

walid badir 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
walid badir 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv's hopes of advancing beyond the UEFA Cup group stage suffered a blow on Thursday night after the team drew 2-2 with Rapid Bucharest at Bloomfield Stadium. Midway through the group stage, Tel Aviv only has a single point and will need favorable results in its remaining two matches if it's to finish in the group's top three teams and advance to the next round. Only 6,000 Hapoel fans came out on a rainy night in Tel Aviv and for large parts of the match, they were forced to see Rapid dictate the play. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv went into halftime with a 2-1 lead after making the most of its two scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes. The Romanians equalized early in the second half and despite late pressure by Hapoel, the match ended tied. "Drawing at home is not the best of results, but five points may be enough to advance from the group," Hapoel coach Yitzhak Schum said after the match. "Rapid is an excellent side with eight Romanian internationals. "In soccer, you need to create scoring opportunities and you need to convert them. In European soccer, you rarely create chances, but we managed to do that tonight and it's a shame we couldn't score." Hapoel will travel to France to play Paris Saint Germain on Matchday 3 in three weeks and Schum remains hopeful of getting an improbable win. "You always have a chance. Maccabi Haifa already showed us that PSG can be defeated." Rapid controlled the possession at the start of the match and had the first chance of the game after 10 minutes. Marius Malarasanu was left unmarked in the Hapoel box, but his shot was well saved by 'keeper Shavit Elimelech. Thirty seconds later, the hosts took the lead. Ibazito Ogabona powerfully headed the ball in from five meters after a buildup play by Salim Toema. Tel Aviv's advantage was short-lived as the Romanians equalized just three minutes later. Walid Badier's attempted clearance was picked up by Ionut Rada, who squared the ball for veteran Viorel Moldovan, who easily placed the ball in the net. Rapid looked the more likely to score after the equalizer, but it was Hapoel which took the lead against the run of play in the 32nd minute. Badier redeemed himself for his earlier mistake with an unstoppable header direct from a corner kick. The hosts went into halftime in the lead, but not before Moldovan squandered a chance to tie the score in the 45th minute when he hit his shot straight at Elimelech. Tel Aviv came out after the break eager to give itself a cushion and Ogabona could have scored the third in the 52nd minute when he shot poorly to the center of the goal. A minute later, the visitors tied the score once more. Costin Lazar threaded the ball through to Mugurel Buga, who clinically slotted the ball in. Moldovan was close to giving Rapid its first lead of the match in the 66th minute when he got by Tel Aviv defender Tal Chen, but was blocked at the last moment by Badier. The hosts had the upper hand in the closing stages of the match and in the 84th minute could have scored the winner. Substitute Gil Vermut squared the ball for Badier, who was all alone at the edge of the area but could only shoot high over the goal. Nicolae Grigore and Luciano De Bruno both had chances in stoppage time for Rapid and Hapoel, respectively, but neither could score and the match ended in stalemate. Glasgow Rangers beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0 with a fifth-minute goal from Nacho Novo and an 89th-minute penalty by Charlie Adam to top Group A with two wins. Kris Boyd had a 48th-minute penalty saved by Maccabi goalkeeper Nir Davidovich. AP contributed to this report