Eli Guttman, the manager of Hapoel Tel Aviv, was left with mixed emotions after his team claimed their first ever Champions League point against Schalke at the Bloomfield Stadium on Tuesday night.
Having lost their first three matches in Group B, the Israeli champions restored some pride in a goalless draw against team containing the likes of Raul, Klaus Jan Huntelaar and Jefferson Farfan.
Guttman said: “It is a great honour for an Israeli side to be able to stand up to a club as big as Schalke, yet I’m still leaving with a slight taste of disappointment.”
Hapoel had the better of the game in terms of chances against a lacklustre German side who had beaten them 3-1 a fortnight ago.
Missing star striker Itay Shechter, Hapoel made a confident start against a team who were happy to put 10 men behind the ball.
German keeper Manuel Neuer had to be on top form to keep out efforts from Eran Zahavi and the industrious Toto Tamuz. His best save came in the second half when he dived to his left to palm away a strike from substitute Yossi Shivnon.
As the final whistle blew, you could sense that Hapoel had realised that this was an opportunity missed. The result means that Hapoel cannot quality for the knockout phase with only an outside chance of finishing third in the group and guarantee a European League slot.
Hapoel coach Eli Guttman said: “We didn’t win because we missed too many chances and at this level you have to put the ball in the back of the net. I’m proud of my players because everyone who watched the match saw an organised team which moved the ball well and had more possession and goal attempts.
“I’m delighted with the point but disappointed with the two we let slip.”
Felix Magath, the Schalke coach, said: “We wanted the three points but Tel-Aviv were surprisingly strong. We were hardly able to find space in the second half and had few good situations. Even if we had have done, we didn’t attack fast enough. We encountered trouble as soon as we got close to their area.
“In the first half there were certain moments when we could have made things happen but altogether it was not good enough. Our central defenders played competently which, of course, is important to us. Not conceding is not so bad after all. We need at least three points to progress. So far we have won all our home matches, and we intend for it to stay that way.”
Benfica are the next visitors to the Bloomfield on matchday five.
Hapoel: Enyeama, da Silva (sub: Fransman 42), Bondarv, Badir (capt), Vermouth, Zahavi, Toama (sub: Shivnon 71), Abutbul, Ben Dayan, Sahar (sub: Mare 70), Tamuz
Bookings: Zahavi 5, Badir 39
Schalke: Neuer, Escudero, Metzelder, Howedes, Gonzalez, Rakitic (sub: Edu 74), Kluge (sub: Moritz 46), Farfan (sub: Deac 81), Jurado, Uchida, Huntelaar
Bookings: Rakitic 24, Jurado 30, Huntelaar 36, Howedes 51
Group B standings
Lyon Pl. 4, Pts. 9
Schalke Pl. 4, Pts. 7
Benfica Pl. 4, Pts. 6
Hapoel Tel Aviv Pl. 4, Pts. 1