Intertoto Cup: Sakhnin battles but loses 2-1 to Deportivo La Coruna

The Israeli team will no doubt be proud of the way it held up against its far more illustrious opponent.

bnei sakhnin 88 (photo credit: )
bnei sakhnin 88
(photo credit: )
Bnei Sakhnin put in a fighting performance against Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna at Kiryat Eliezer on Saturday night but still lost 2-1 in the first leg of the Intertoto Cup third round. The Israeli team will no doubt be proud of the way it held up against its far more illustrious opponent, pressuring the La Coruna defense throughout the match. However the two away goals scored by Angel Lafita and Riki will likely prove crucial and ensure that it is Deportivo which advances to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup after the return leg is played next week. The game in the famous Riazor Stadium in La Coruna will still be one of the greatest moments in the history of Freddy David's team from northern Israel, matching the time the then-State Cup holder lost to English Premier League club Newcastle in 2004. David stayed positive following the game. "We will try and play positive soccer in the second leg and surprise them," he said. "Deportivo upped the tempo at the start of the second half and we couldn't handle it. Two solo efforts decided the match." Sakhnin had the first half chance when in the third minute Haim Banoon put Mosa Sha'ban through on goal on his own and 20-year-old Spanish goalkeeper Fabricio Augusto had to react quickly to narrow the angle and clear the ball. While Deportivo controlled much of the play in the opening period, on 10 minutes Bassam Ghanayim crossed to Sha'ban, whose diving volley at full stretch was off target, but sent a message of intent from the Arab side. Seven minutes into the second half Omri Alon saved off the line for Sakhnin, but the Spaniards took the lead in the 54th minute. Lafita chested the ball down into area, took it past Alaa Abu Saleh and unleashed an unstoppable shot, giving the Sakhnin keeper hardly any chance. The second goal exposed the weaknesses of the home team's defense. Lafita received the ball on right side of area and the Sakhnin defenders were all over the place with no one able to prevent Riki practically walking the ball into the net in the 57th minute. But it was not over yet. A minute later the hosts hit back, sparking massive celebrations in the crowd. Ghanayim attempted a long-range shot and Albert Lopo turned it into his own net to the disappointment of the Deportivo management. Sakhnin didn't sit back and relax, and continued applying pressure on the Deportivo goal. Yaniv Luzon should have done better for Sakhnin with 15 minutes to go when he received a lovely cross-goal pass from the right but his half volley was weak. It seemed a certainty that Xisco would extend the visitors lead back to two goals in the 79th minute but the Sakhnin keeper saved well from close range and the score stayed at 2-1.