FC Kärnten 0-4 Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Hapoel Tel-Aviv’s love affair with the UEFA Cup looks likely to continue after the Israeli side stunned Austrian hosts FC Kärnten to effectively secure their place in the UEFA Cup second round.
The Israeli side reached the quarter-finals of the competition last season, knocking out Chelsea FC and Parma AC on their way, and they showed that they had lost none of their appetite for the competition as they overwhelmed the hosts in consummate style. Indeed, Hapoel seemed to win effortlessly, playing a containment game after Gábor Halmai had opened the scoring in the first half. But they were still able to break out almost at will, to make the return leg in Sofia in two weeks a mere formality.
Halmai on target
Hapoel’s opener came after a slow start for both sides, with chances at a premium. Hapoel forced a corner in the 36th minute, with Salim Toema’s excellent delivery met by the head of the Hungarian Halmai. Hapoel assumed almost total control thereafter with Kärnten’s resistance limited to a Almedin Hota effort just before half-time.
With Toema and the effervescent Josef Abukasis orchestrating matters, it was no surprise that the visitors doubled their lead after 68 minutes. Confusion in the home side's defence let in Pini Balili and he committed the keeper before squaring for Brazilian strike partner Carlos Silva Welton to score.
The third goal after 76 minutes was a virtual carbon copy of the second, with defender Shimon Gershon this time applying the finish touch after Walter Kogler had been caught out. The victory was completed two minutes from time when another rapid counterattack tore open the Austrian defence. Ygal Antebi this time provided the assist with Kfir Udi shooting into the empty net.