Hapoel and Schalke draw a blank
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC 0-0 FC Schalke 04
The German side stayed second in Group B despite dropping points with the draw not enough for the hosts to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.
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FC Schalke 04 were forced to settle for a point as Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC finally got off the mark in the UEFA Champions League Group B, although the result means the Israeli titleholders cannot qualify for the knockout stages.
The German team had the better of the teams' first meeting a fortnight ago, running out 3-1 winners, yet they were largely kept on the back foot in Tel Aviv, often playing with ten men behind the ball in the second period. Hapoel were unable to supply the finishing touch in the final third, however, and remain bottom of the section ahead of SL Benfica's visit on Matchday 5 when second-placed Schalke – now only a point ahead of their Portuguese rivals – welcome Olympique Lyonnais.
The home side had lost their first three games and were missing striker Etey Shechter and Avihay Yadin due to injury, yet started confidently. Ben Sahar and Toto Tamuz both posed plenty of problems for the Schalke rearguard in the opening half-hour, their pace and power unsettling Benedikt Höwedes and Christoph Metzelder and keeping visiting goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on his toes.
Clear chances were few, however, the Hapoel forwards regularly losing their composure once they got into the penalty area. Both Eran Zahavi and Tamuz failed to beat Neuer when well placed, although the goalkeeper was in top form; the Germany No1's best stop came midway through the second period when he dived to his left to palm away a header from substitute Yossi Shivhon.
At the other end Schalke were struggling to make much impression on the home defence. Raúl González – who scored twice in Gelsenkirchen on Matchday 3 – dropped increasingly deeper in search of possession, while the clever promptings of José Manuel Jurado came to nothing.
Sensing an opportunity, the home fans urged Hapoel forward in search of victory and Shivhon almost made the decisive intervention 13 minutes from time. The replacement picked up possession 25 metres out and ran incisively at the heart of Schalke's defence, skipping past three challenges only to drag his low shot wide of Neuer's right-hand post.
The away team were keeping all bar Klaas-Jan Huntelaar behind the ball by this point, although they still might have snatched victory from two late corners. First Metzelder volleyed into the Schalke fans behind Vincent Enyeama's goal before Edu headed wide; Walid Badier then did likewise for Hapoel to ensure the match finished scoreless.