Israel international midfielder and club captain GIL VERMOUTH (14) of FC Hapoel Tel Aviv, who spent the 2007-08 season with KAA Gent in Belgium, chases Olympique Lyon’s Bosnia/Herzegovina international midfielder MIRALEM PRANJIC (8) at the Stade de Gerland in the Rhone-Alpes region of east-central France. (Robert Pratta/Reuters)
UEFA Champions League
2 – Olympique Lyon (FRA) ————– Lisandro 62′, Lacazette 88′
2 – FC Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR) ———– Zahavi 63′, Sahar 69′
For all the attempts and pressure an equalizing goal with less than two minutes remaining spared the blushes of French Ligue 1 side OLYMPIQUE LYON and brought a 2-2 draw with a brave and determined visiting Israeli club FC HAPOEL TEL AVIV in Group B of the UEFA Champions League.
Olympique Lyon, semi-finalists in the Champions League last season and already qualified for this year’s knockout round of 16, laid siege to the net of FC Hapoel Tel Aviv almost immediately and would total 21 attempts-at-goal for the game.
Once again, however, Nigeria World Cup goalkeeper VINCENT ENYEAMA was in fine form between the sticks for the visiting Israeli side. The Cat kept Olympique Lyon off the scoresheet for more than an hour and ended with nine saves for the match. Olympique Lyon finally beat Enyeama only in the 62nd minute after the Nigerian had left his line to deal with France international striker JIMMY BRIAND and a rebound fell right for Argentina international striker LISANDRO LOPEZ to hammer home.
FC Hapoel Tel Aviv retaliated quickly and to great effect. First, Israel international midfielder ERAN ZAHAVI sent one-time FC Chelsea striker BEN SAHAR in clean and the Israel international striker calmly leveled the match in the 63rd minute. Next, Zahavi, the visitors’ leading goal-scorer in the Champions League this season, accepted the cross of 31-year-old veteran Israel international winger SALIM TOAMA and shot the visitors ahead with a spectacular, overhead bicycle kick.
Sahar’s goal was his third overall this season in the UEFA Champions League but his first for Hapoel Tel Aviv at the group stage of the competition; Zahavi, the influential 23-year-old who has stood out with three goals in the group stage, totals five in Europe overall this term.
At this point, with German club Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen defeating Benfica of Lisbon in Portugal, it looked as if UEFA Europa League football was possible this spring for FC Hapoel Tel Aviv.
But, unfortunately for the visitors, 19-year-old substitute striker ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE scored his first career goal in the UEFA Champions League just a few minutes from time to earn Olympique Lyon a draw and erase the Israeli club’s hopes of further European football.
OLYMPIQUE LYON : Lloris ; Cissokho (Pied 78′), Diakhate, Cris, Reveillere ; Makoun, Pjanic (Lacazette 68′), Gonalons ; Briand, Lopez, Gomis (Michel Bastos 59′)
HAPOEL TEL AVIV : Enyeama ; Bondarv, Fransman, da Silva, Shish ; Vermouth, Zahavi, Abutbul (Badeer 80′), Yadin ; Shechter (Sahar 25′), Tamuz (Toama 62′)