Hapoel Be’er Sheva suffered a heartbreaking Champions League exit to Celtic on Tuesday evening after a missed penalty saw them miss out on qualification for the group stage of the tournament.
Going into the second leg on the back of last week’s 5-2 first leg defeat in Glasgow, the Israeli champions needed a 3-0 victory to book their place in the lucrative group stage draw of the competition, though ultimately fell a goal short.
Maharan Radi had already seen his penalty saved by Craig Gordon, before former Chelsea striker Ben Sahar headed home their first goal from Maharan Radi’s corner, two minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 21st minute.
They made it 2-0 minutes after the break, when a defensive error from Celtic defender Saidy Janko and goalkeeper Craig Gordon allowed Ovidiu Hoban to tap into the back of the net.
However, despite creating numerous chances in the final half an hour, the Scottish champions held on to claim a nervous win.
Be’er Sheva manager Barak Bakhar said: “The players gave 200 percent tonight, the crowd gave us power – it was crazy. It’s very disappointing because we were very close and it’s about us. However, we are very proud. We knew we had to come out, be more aggressive and look for the first goal, the other came at a good time and we tried to find the third. We were close do something sensational.
“We have played three teams in play-off games and showed how excellent we are against a strong team. Now we wait for the Europe League Draw and see who we will face in that competition.”
Midfielder Maor Buzaglo said: “This is the biggest victory of my career and the pity of my career, but I get satisfaction from the fact that this club – Hapoel Be’er Sheva – gave it everything, we played as a team and conducted ourselves properly, even if it’s not easy to take the manner of this defeat.”
The Israelis will though still be involved in European football this season, their run to the final round of Champions League qualifiers meaning they drop down to the group stage of the Europa League.