Uefa Champions League second qualifying round first leg
MSK Zilina 1
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 0
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona’s dreams of making the group stages of the Champions League remain alive – despite suffering a narrow defeat in their qualifying clash.
Hapoel will need to overturn a single goal deficit if they are to book their place in the third qualifying round after going down to Slovakian side MSK Zilina.
Jozef Piaček’s 82nd minute strike was enough to separate the two teams and leaves the Israeli’s playing catch up ahead of next week’s second leg.
Hapoel were under the cosh for much of the game, but had looked set to claim a creditable goalless draw thanks to an inspired performance by keeper Daniel Amos.
The Hapoel stopper produced a breathtaking save to deny Ricardo Nunes from the penalty spot with just nine minutes remaining as the visitors clung on for dear life.
But just 60 seconds later, Zilina finally made the breakthrough when Piaček converted Miroslav Barčík's corner.
Amos had already produced a number of outstanding saves with Momodou Ceesay, Nunes and Piaček all denied before Zilina’s late strike.
Hapoel did create chances of their own with Shimon Abhazira shooting inches wide, while Sali Hassarmi struck the bar when he looked set to claim a crucial away goal.
The Israeli champions will now hope to overturn the deficit when the teams meet again next week.