Debutants Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC took a sizeable step towards a place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs with a 4-0 first-leg defeat of Neftçi PFK.
The deadlock was broken three minutes before the interval, when Barak Badash converted a penalty. Shimon Abihazira doubled the lead early in the second half, with Bryan Gerzicich then scoring twice in six minutes to put the match – and perhaps the tie – beyond Neftçi.
The opening goal arrived at the perfect time for the hosts. Igor Mitreski fouled El'ad Gabai, allowing Badash to convert the resulting penalty. Despite the half-time interval, Neftçi failed to regroup and Abihazira increased Hapoel's advantage seven minutes into the second period, racing onto a long ball and lifting neatly over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Gerzicich then stole the show with a quick-fire double, firing in loose balls from substitute Ravid Gazal's 70th and 76th-minute corners to leave his side in a commanding position going into next Wednesday's second leg.
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