Hapoel in Champions League triumph
Uefa Champions League second qualifying round second leg
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 2 MSK Zilina 1
Hapoel win 2-1 on aggregate
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona are within sight of a potential money spinning tie with the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona after moving into the third qualifying round of the Champions League.
The Israeli champions, who will host Azerbaijan’s Neftci PFK in next week's first leg, overcame a one goal deficit to see off MSK Zilina and move to within touching distance of the play-off stage.
After losing the first leg in Slovakia, Hapoel laid siege to the Zilina goal with David Solari twice going close, while Sali Hassarmi smashed an effort against the woodwork.
And the home side finally made the breakthrough when Vladimir Leitner deflected Elad Gabai’s cross into his own net.
That strike gave Hapoel a real boost and it was no surprise when Shimon Abihazira calmly slotted home the winner with 12 minutes remaining.
“We deserved this victory,” said Kiryat Shmona boss Gili Landau.
“The name of the game was patience. We tried to decide the match in the first 10 minutes, but we squandered our chances and we had to be patient after that.
“We continued to move the ball against a very compact defense and ultimately it paid off.
“I’m very pleased as this gives us confidence and momentum for the rest of the competition.
“We looked okay, but we still have plenty of room for improvement. There are no easy matches in this competition and we have no reason to be in a euphoric mood ahead of next week.”