UEFA Cup: Hapoel Tel Aviv takes lead over Rangers

Maccabi Haifa battles CSKA Moscow to goalless draw.

hapoel tel aviv soccer88 (photo credit: )
hapoel tel aviv soccer88
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa both took small steps towards reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Cup on Wednesday night, but their two-legged ties are still up for grabs and the Israeli clubs have plenty of work to do in their respective second leg matches next week if they are to continue their European campaigns. Salim Toama and Baruch Dego scored in Hapoel Tel Aviv's 2-1 victory over Glasgow Rangers at Bloomfield Stadium and Maccabi Haifa held CSKA Moscow to a 0-0 draw in Russia. Hapoel Tel Aviv 2,Glasgow Rangers 1 Hapoel pushed for an early goal right from the kickoff and should have taken the lead in the ninth minute of the match. Ibazito Ogabuna controlled the ball well, but his attempted lob went wide of the left post. The hosts continued to control the proceedings in the following minutes and new Brazilian signing Wellington was next to almost break the deadlock when he hit a powerful shot from 20 meters that was spilled by Rangers 'keeper Alan McGregor and eventually cleared. The Glasgow squad slowly began to work its way into the match and in the 16th minute, Tel Aviv had luck on its side after Nacho Novo could only head the ball wide from a free position. The visitors started to dictate the play midway through the first half and came close to scoring once more in the 26th minute when David Weir headed the ball just over Shavit Elimelech's goal direct from a corner. Hapoel's early efforts seemed to tire the team and hamper its play as the half progressed, but 43 minutes into the match, an exquisite piece of skill gave the hosts the lead. Toama hit a tremendous left-footed free kick from 25 meters out that left McGregor helpless. Rangers surged forward in search of an equalizer after the break and found what it was looking for eight minutes into the second half. Barry Ferguson's free kick from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off the Hapoel wall and Novo completed the simple task of smashing in the ball from the goal line. The visitors were content with tying the score and Tel Aviv started to control the possession once again. Elyaniv Barda had a fantastic chance to give his club the lead, but the Israeli international ballooned his shot from five meters out and the score remained tied. Seventy-six minutes after kickoff, Hapoel's pressure paid off and the team regained the precious lead. Barda broke down the right flank and passed the ball to the center of the box, where Dego was on hand to score the hosts' second. Both teams came close to scoring in the remaining minutes, but neither managed to change the result and Tel Aviv takes a one-goal lead into next week's second leg at Glasgow. CSKA Moscow 0,Maccabi Haifa 0 Maccabi Haifa produced yet another impressive UEFA Cup result. Despite its poor form in the Premier League, the greens played a solid and determined game to hold European giant CSKA Moscow to a goalless draw. Around 32,500 CSKA loyals made their presence felt at the Republican Spartak Stadium in Vladikavkaz, with the Israeli club entering the game as a clear underdog. But Roni Levy's lads rose to the occasion, showing no signs of inferiority and forcing the draw. The defending Israeli champion can now advance to the round of 16 with a win in the second leg, scheduled for February 22. The crucial game will be played at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv due to UEFA's ongoing ban on matches outside the center of the country. "I'm very happy with the team's effort," said Maccabi Haifa's Abas Suan. "We can now be optimistic going into the second leg in Israel. "I'm also happy with my form, taking into consideration that I have not played regularly this season. We are satisfied with the result, despite having chances to win the game." In Vladikavkaz, Haifa coach Roni Levy employed an efficient man-marking system, pairing the physical Suan with regular starter Xavier Dirceu in midfield. The greens also had their opportunities to score off quick counterattacks created by Yaniv Katan. Roberto Colautti had a chance to give Haifa an invaluable lead in the sixth minute when he successfully broke the Russian club's offside trap and found himself unmarked in the box. However, the Argentinian's shot struck the post and was cleared by a grateful CSKA defense. The hosts were unable to create inroads towards Haifa's goal, despite brilliant playmaking by Brazilian forward Ramon. Veteran defender Alon Harazi, who turned 36 earlier this week, repeatedly frustrated the CSKA attackers with his trademark tackling. CSKA coach Valery Gazzaev inserted star forward Daniel Carvalho in the opening stages of the second half, which helped the team enjoy most of the ball possession and create chances up front. Dudu Cearense sent a sharp header in the 74th minute, but the ball flew centimeters above the crossbar. Haifa had to withstand intense pressure from the hosts in the dying minutes of the encounter, but continued to implement its effective game plan and managed to contain the Russian club. "We played a very good game today," said Gustavo Boccoli of Maccabi Haifa. "But this is just the first step in our mission. We proved that it's hard to beat us when we play as a team. "We must take this form into the Premier League. Now we have to focus on our upcoming game against Maccabi Tel Aviv." In other first legs of UEFA Cup third round ties on Wednesday, it was: Bayer Leverkusen 3, Blackburn 2; Bordeaux 0, Osasuna; Fenerbahce 3, AZ Alkmaar 3; and Shakhtar Donetsk 1, Nancy 1. Even the rainy conditions and the slippery field didn't help CSKA's cause, with the game ending in a goalless deadlock.