Hapoel nearer Champions League dream

By Danny Caro, August 19, 2010

Three precious away goals put Hapoel Tel Aviv within touching distance of the group phase of the Champions League after they beat Red Bull Salzburg 3-2 on a plastic pitch in Austria on Wednesday night.

The knockout round first leg got off to a flying start for the Israeli champions when keeper Vincent Enyeama put them ahead from the penalty spot after three minute following a foul on the impressive Etey Shechter.

The hosts levelled after 28 minutes via Pokravic but Ben Sahar, the former Chelsea striker, restored Hapoel's advantage with a bullet header a minute before half time.

A thrilling tie saw the Israelis open up a 3-1 lead as Shechter made it 3-1 after 53 minutes. The strike resulted in a bizarre celebration as he took out a kippah from his sock, put it on his head before dropping to his knees. This act was punished by a yellow card from Portuguese ref Pedro Proenca.

Following the scenes, there was reportedly a row in the VIP box after Hapoel directors started an argument with some Austrians who did not react well to the incident. Shechter's antics seem to incite the crowd who were chanting "Sheis Israel" (**** Israel).

Salzburg sub Roman Wallner set up a grandstand finish with a penalty after 67 minutes although it was Hapoel who looked the more likely to score again in the closing stages. Shechter was denied late on.

The return leg is in Israel next Tuesday.

Watch Itay Shechter's unusual celebration

Last updated: 10:33am, August 19 2010