Heart failure hurts Hapoel
HAPOEL Tel Aviv manager Eli Guttman has blamed a lack of heart for his team’s first defeat of the Europa League campaign.
Having come from behind to beat Celtic 2-1 on matchday one, Hapoel were beaten 4-2 by Hamburg.
The Israelis found themselves two goals down inside the opening 12 minutes of the Group C contest. Hamburg, beaten 3-1 by Rapid Vienna in their opening fixture, flew out of the blocks with Swedish striker Marcus Berg bagging a brace.
Minutes after coming off the bench, Hapoel substitute Etai Shechter halved the deficit, turning in Bibars Natcho’s pinpoint cross with his head.
The hosts restored their two-goal advantage four minutes before halftime when Elia pounced to drive in off the bar after the Israeli side failed to deal with a Guy Demel throw-in.
Hapoel continued to battle after the break and Shechter had a hand in their second, crossing for Samuel Yeboah to tap in. But their hopes of a comeback were scuppered after 65 minutes when Walid Badir, the former Wimbledon player, was sent off for bringing down Tunay. Hapoel’s Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama kept his team in the game with a fine penalty save from Zé Roberto but the Brazilian made amends 13 minutes from time, thumping in the fourth to seal the points.
“We are a team of great character but we really did not put our soul into this game,” Guttman said. “When you make so many basic mistakes you can’t expect to get anything out of a game.”
Next up for Hapoel are group leaders Rapid Vienna in Tel Aviv on October 22.
A Europa League consolation slot looks highly unlikely for Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa, who have lost their opening two matches in the Champions League. The Greens suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat against Bordeaux in France, courtesy of an 83rd minute header from Michael Ciani.
Haifa boss Elisha Levy said: “At this level, when you get chances you have to take them. We made one mistake and were punished. We knew that they were dangerous from set pieces. We lost our concentration for a moment and lost the game.”
Captain Yaniv Katan added: “The result was disappointing and cruel. We played well and must keep our heads up and concentrate on getting something out of the games with Juventus.”
Hamburg’s Mladen Petric ( left) climbs above Hapoel’s Bibars Natcho