Hapoel’s first Champions League win delights manager Guttman
Hapoel's Asaf Kliger
Eli Guttman, manager of Hapoel Tel Aviv, praised his team after they claimed a first ever Champions League group stage win with a remarkable 3-0 victory against two-time European Cup winners Benfica.
Two goals from Eran Zahavi and one from Brazilian defender Douglas da Silva capped a disciplined performance from the Israeli champions who were forced to defend for long spells at the Bloomfield Stadium.
Guttman said: “Our players are a bunch of winners and they proved it today. We are mightily proud and extremely satisfied – three points in the Champions League, what more do you need?
Benfica accumulated 21 corners but Hapoel held firm to complete a famous victory to eliminate their illustrious opponents.
Guttman said: “We proved we can deal with set-pieces which is our weakness. You never know how this game pans out. At 1-0 we knew that we had to play on the counter. At 2-0 they threw caution to the wind while I introduced a third central defender and knew we would score the third on the break.
“We played a combination of man-to-man and zonal marking and prepared ourselves to the best of our ability. It just ended up being one of those days. But our problem is that we are already thinking about our next league match. My wife is sitting is sitting at home with my parents and kids and I dedicate this match to them. The victory is good for my resume but also great for the club’s finances.”
The result kept alive Hapoel’s hopes of reaching the Europa League as third placed finishers in Group B but only a victory against Lyon in their final match on December 7 would keep them in contention.
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus said: “There are some results that just cannot be explained. We lost 3-0 having had 21 corners and five or six chances to score. Hapoel got into our box three times and scored three goals.
“After the first goal we took some risks because we knew that we had to win the match in order to go through, and we kept on creating chances. However, our defence was without protection after the second goal but I had to do that to turn the game with Schalke winning their match. There is nothing much more to say; what happened on the pitch was one thing, the result was another. We’re out sooner than we expected.”