Abuksis gains slender advantage

Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1-0 KS Partizani Spectacular Yossi Abuksis sees Hapoel edge out win.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1-0 KS Partizani
A spectacular goal from Yossi Abuksis saw Hapoel Tel-Aviv secure a narrow 1-0 victory over Albanian side KS Partizani in the first-leg of their UEFA Cup qualifier tonight.

No home advantage
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict forced the match to be re-located to PFC Levski Sofia's stadium in Bulgaria and Hapoel were disappointed not to have scored more ahead of the second-leg in Tirana in two weeks' time. Dror Kashtan's men were fortunate to win as the Albanians, who fielded four Brazilians, missed a penalty in the closing stages.

Decisive goal
Abuksis had scored the decisive goal immediately after the interval when he latched onto a poor clearance from a Partizani defender and unleashed an unstoppable right foot drive into the top corner.

Israelis threaten
The Israeli side had threatened to score at the beginning and end of the first half. A powerful header flew wide on seven minutes, and Omri Afek’s cross caused panic in the Albanian defence minutes before the break.

Pale reflection
But Hapoel barely resembled the side that beat Chelsea FC, FC Lokomotiv Moscow, Parma AC and Milan AC last season and looked set for a draw when one of their Brazilians was hauled down in the box. Abilio wasted what would have been a precious away goal when he blasted over. Hapoel coach Kashtan admitted that his side were a long way from their best. "Sometimes luck is worth a lot in football," he said. "But we managed to squeeze a narrow victory."