FC Hapoel Tel Aviv 3 – Benfica Lisbon 0


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Chased by Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Brazilian defender DOUGLAS DA SILVA (3), veteran international midfielder PABLO AIMAR (10) of visiting Benfica, who has collected 52 caps and been a member of two World Cup squads for Argentina, advances on the netted cage of The Cat, Nigeria World Cup goalkeeper VINCENT ENYEAMA, at the Bloomfield Stadium. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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UEFA Champions League
Group Stage
11/23/2010

3 – FC Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR) —— Zahavi 24′, 90+2′, da Silva 74′
0 – Benfica Lisbon (POR)

Already eliminated from the next stage of the tournament and facing an opponent with all to play for, a determined effort and resolute defending enabled FC HAPOEL TEL AVIV to ambush a proud visiting Portuguese side BENFICA LISBON 3-0 in Group B of the UEFA Champions League.

The result left Benfica with no hope of the knockout round and renewed Hapoel Tel Aviv’s hope, albeit against the odds, for continuing on in Europe this season with a third place finish in the bracket.

Benfica began to apply pressure from the outset but would struggle for the night with the finishing aspect. When not wrestling with hitting the target, the record 32-times champion of Portugal with two European Cup titles in addition found Nigeria World Cup goalkeeper VINCENT ENYEAMA to be in typical form for Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Cat contributed another standout evening in Europe to the cause and was credited with eight saves for the match by the official website of the UEFA Champions League.

The defenders of Hapoel Tel Aviv played their part, as well, for the night and were needed to clear the ball of the line on more than one occasion.

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Despite the contact from Benfica international striker OSCAR CARDOZO, who claimed the winning penalty kick in the shootout against Japan this past summer in South Africa as Paraguay reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time ever, Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Nigeria World Cup goalkeeper VINCENT ENYEAMA hangs onto the ball firmly at the Bloomfield Stadium. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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Israel international ERAN ZAHAVI sent the home side ahead very much against the run of play in the 24th minute; the 23-year-old rising star, who earned his very first caps for his country this fall, got his head to a free kick from fellow midfielder SHAY ABUTBUL in the box and benefited from a deflection off of Benfica’s 23-year-old Brazil international defender DAVID LUIZ to steer the ball into the top corner.

Perhaps most indicative of the amount of pressure Benfica applied is best reflected by the whopping 21-2 advantage the Portuguese side compiled in corner kicks.

Hapoel Tel Aviv did not earn a corner kick until the clock approached a quarter hour to play. By this time, Benfica had already had eighteen such opportunities. The Israeli side made the most of their chance, however, when the in-coming corner bounced off of former Spain U-21 international midfielder JAVI GARCIA, the acquisition costing 7.0 million Euros from La Liga giant Real Madrid in July of 2009. Brazilian defender DOUGLAS DA SILVA was happy to accept such a gift for Hapoel Tel Aviv and easily scored his second goal in the UEFA Champions League competition this year.

Zahavi, who holds a French passport and surely is beginning to attract interest by now from clubs in Europe, capped off a great night for Hapoel Tel Aviv with a second goal from a cool finish to a counterattack in injury time; the midfielder’s brace took his total to a club-leading four goals for Hapoel Tel Aviv, who have, including the qualifying rounds, played eleven games in the UEFA Champions League tournament this season.

“Our players are a bunch of winners and they proved it today,” stated Hapoel Tel Aviv manager ELI GUTMAN after the match. “We are mightily proud.”

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Nigeria World Cup goalkeeper VINCENT ENYEAMA of Hapoel Tel Aviv demonstrates solid decision making as well as technique in smothering the ball ahead of Benfica’s in-coming Paraguay World Cup striker OSCAR CARDOZA, who failed with a critical penalty kick against Spain which would have put his side ahead in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss in South Africa, at the Bloomfield Stadium. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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FC HAPOEL TEL AVIV : Enyeama ; Bondarv, Fransman, da Silva, Ben Dayan ; Vermouth, Zahavi, Abutbul (Badeer 76′), Yadin ; Tamuz (Sahar 66′), Shechter (Shivhon 58′)

BENFICA LISBON : Roberto ; Coentrao, Luiz, Luisao, Pereira ; Gaitan, Javi Garcia (Jara 79′), Aimar, Salvio (Martins 65′) ; Alan Kardec, Saviola (Cardozo 46′)

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Israel international midfielder ERAN ZAHAVI of Hapoel Tel Aviv, a man whose stock is on the rise in the vast market of professional football, collects his by-now customary reward — a kiss from his girlfriend in the stands — after scoring the first goal of the landmark game against Benfica at the Bloomfield Stadium. (Nir Elias/Reuters)
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Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Brazilian defender DOUGLAS DA SILVA listens to the roaring approval of the crowd at the Bloomfield Stadium in Israel after his goal in the 74th minute effectively clinched the victory over traditional Portuguese heavyweight SL Benfica of Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League. (Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP)
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(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

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