Hapoel Tel-Aviv were surprisingly beaten 1-0 in Sofia by FC Kärnten but secured their passage to the second round thanks to an emphatic 4-0 victory in Austria a fortnight ago.
There was little doubt that the Israeli side, who enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals of the competition last season, set out to play a game of containment, launching very few attacks in the opening period.
Kärnten take the lead
Kärnten, under new coach Rüdiger Abramczik for the first time, deservedly took the lead a minute before half-time. Markus Oberleitner’s diagonal shot eluded Hapoel goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech to nestle in the corner of the net.
Hapoel stir after the break
The setback obviously stirred Hapoel and they were a much more potent attacking unit in the second period. Two minutes into the second half a corner reached striker Omri Afek who saw his effort cannon back off the crossbar and away to safety.
Elimelech thwars Zuleta
Kärnten were soon on the attack again and threatened the Hapoel goal on a number of occasions without creating a clear-cut opening. However, Argentinian striker Carlos Zuleta should have further reduced the arrears, but he fired a close-range shot straight at Elimelech.
Pilipovic wastes chance
Kärnten kept pressing for the remainder of the game and as the match entered its final quarter midfield player Renato Pilipovic wasted an excellent chance, but by that time Hapoel were already looking towards the next round.