Three goals in 19 first-half minutes earned Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC a 3-2 aggregate victory against FK Aktobe and a place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
Going into the second leg of their third qualifying round tie 1-0 down, Hapoel were back on level terms a little over a quarter of an hour in when Eran Zahavi turned in Itay Shechter's cross. Ben Sahar gave Hapoel the lead on the night and on aggregate, on 31 minutes, before an own goal from Khalifa Elhadj Ba put Eli Gutman's team in total control. Although Murat Tleshev set up a nervous finale with a late goal, Hapoel held on and will discover the identity of their play-off opponents when the draw is made in Nyon on Friday.
Having set up Zahavi with an inviting cross from the right, Shechter turned provider for a second time 15 minutes later when he played in Sahar, who calmly rounded Aktobe goalkeeper Andrei Sidelnikov and slid the ball into the empty net. The tie was effectively over ten minutes before half-time, Ba Khalifa inadvertently lobbing Sidelnikov. Although Tleshev capitalised on a bout of defensive confusion following a corner in the 90th minute, Hapoel ensured Aktobe suffered third qualifying round disappointment against an Israeli club for the second successive season.
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