Hapless Hapoel flag on the big stage
Under-fire Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Guy Luzon was given a stay of execution as last Thursday’s 2-0 defeat against Spurs was soon forgotten after the team claimed its first success in the Israeli Premiere Division.
An 81st-minute strike from Brazilian Fabio Junior earned Hapoel victory in the Tel Aviv derby as they beat fellow strugglers Maccabi 1-0.
The European match against Spurs, played in front of a small crowd after Hapoel trebled ticket prices, was more akin to men against boys as Juande Ramos’ troops cruised to victory with strikes from Robbie Keane and Dmitar Berbatov. Record signing Darren Bent was denied a third by the post.
Hapoel, who were unbeaten in their previous six matches in Europe, finished with 10 men after Gal Shish earned a second booking after just 50 minutes. Home fans, already unhappy with the inflated ticket prices, targeted chairman Moni Harel and Luzon for verbal abuse throughout with a section of the crowd chanting “son of a bitch” in his direction.
While there was a full 16,000 house for the Tel Aviv derby, only 11,000 fans showed for the Spurs match. Harel had no regrets about the price hike for the tie. “I know Spurs are going through a difficult time too,” he said.
“But they were top quality European opposition and we were justified in raising prices. Of course I am disappointed that we could not fill the stadium. I am also disappointed that we lost to Spurs but our top priority is picking up points in the league and the win over Maccabi was more valuable to us that the luxury of a win in Europe.”
Before the match, Spurs took an official delegation, including directors, to Yad Vashem. Supporters Trust chairman Daniel Wynne layed a wreath.
Spurs striker Dmitar Berbatov, who scored the second, holds off Gal Shish at the Bloomfield Stadium
Berbatov ( top) celebrates his goal with Robbie Keane, ( below) Spurs fans fail to fill the terraces and a Spurs delegation lay a wreath at Yad Vashem