Hapoel desperate for a boost at Benfica's expense

Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC lost their first three Group B games but, having finally got off the mark on Matchday 4, will be eager to build on that against an SL Benfica side with strong designs on a top-two finish.

Hapoel desperate for a boost at Benfica's expense
Hapoel desperate for a boost at Benfica's expense ©UEFA.com

Having registered their first UEFA Champions League point on Matchday 4, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC will be eager to build on that when they host an SL Benfica side who are in contention for a top-two finish following a fine result of their own last time out.

• Hapoel lost their first three Group B fixtures but the competition debutants got off the mark in their second home game, holding FC Schalke 04 to a goalless draw at the Bloomfield Stadium – although that was not enough to prolong their interest in the competition. The same night, Benfica – 2-0 winners against Hapoel on Matchday 1 – held off a late Olympique Lyonnais revival to win 4-3 and move onto six points.

Previous meetings
• The 14 September contest was the first between the sides in UEFA competition and the first time Hapoel had faced Portuguese opposition. Goals from Luisão and Óscar Cardozo gave Benfica the points.

• Benfica had met Israeli opposition on one previous occasion, losing the away leg against Beitar Jerusalem FC in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round 4-2. However they had cruised to a 6-0 home win in the first game.

• Portuguese clubs have faced Israeli opposition in six ties and came off second best only once. That came in last season's UEFA Europa League third qualifying round as Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC beat FC Paços de Ferreira 1-0 in both games.

Match background
• After losing in Lisbon on Matchday 1, Hapoel then came off second best at home to Lyon and away at Schalke, losing both games 3-1. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama converted a penalty against Lyon for Hapoel's first group stage goal, Etey Shechter scoring a late consolation at Schalke.

• The Israeli champions were unbeaten at home en route to the group stage, defeating FK Željezničar 5-0 in the second qualifying round and 6-0 overall. FK Aktobe were then beaten 3-1 in Tel Aviv to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit before a 1-1 draw against FC Salzburg completed a 4-3 aggregate victory in the play-off round.

• Both the previous two Israeli teams to compete in the UEFA Champions League group stage, Maccabi Haifa FC in 2004/05 and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC last season, finished bottom of their section. No team from that country has managed to win a group match in the competition proper in 12 attempts; the last victors were Maccabi Tel-Aviv, 2-1 winners against AFC Ajax on 3 November 2004.

• After their opening-day victory Benfica lost 2-0 at Schalke on Matchday 2. They then went down by the same scoreline at Lyon three weeks later.

Team ties
• Benfica striker Nuno Gomes converted a late penalty in the 6-0 win against Beitar in the home leg on 12 August 1998 and also opened the scoring in the Lisbon club's 4-2 away defeat in the return.

• Hapoel assistant coach Yossi Abuksis also played both games of that tie, scoring Beitar's final goal in the second leg.