Hapoel suffer Champions League heartbreak


Hapoel Beer Sheva came tantalisingly close to a remarkable Champions League group stage appearance with a 2-0 victory over Celtic at the Turner Stadium.

The Israeli champions played the Bhoys off the park with a commanding performance, but it was not enough to compensate for a wretched 5-2 defeat in Glasgow and Beer Sheva bowed out of the competition 4-5 on aggregate.

Hapoel manager Barak Bakhar was heartbroken after the final whistle. He said: “I’m so disappointed because we were so close and we deserved to make history and pull off a huge sensation. I’m upset for the players who gave 200 per cent and the fans who put on a spectacular performance.”

The Israel side came out fighting and after 15 minutes Ofir Davidzada was brought down on the edge of the area to earn a penalty, but Maharan Radi shot straight at Celtic keeper Craig Gordon, who saved well.

Beer Sheva’s fortunes took another knock immediately afterwards when Lucio Maranhao was forced off with injury.

But substitute Ben Sahar was left unmarked to head home a corner in the 19th minute and Beer Sheva had their tails up.

Then they got a break at the start of the second half when Gordon fumbled a cross and Ovidiu Hoban tapped home.

A treble substitution by Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers changed the momentum of the game and Moussa Dembele curled a shot just wide, before a Scott Sinclair effort was well saved by Dudu Goresh.

Beer Sheva faded in the final 15 minutes as Celtic clung on and were made to pay for their poor performance in Glasgow.

Rodgers said the game was the longest 90 minutes of his career.

“I thought Hapoel Beer Sheva were outstanding,” he said.

“They had to force the game of course. They had nothing to lose and they played very well.”

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