Israeli champions Hapoel Be’er Sheva are one match away from reaching the group stages of next season’s Champions League after they came through their third round qualifying tie against Ludogorets – despite losing Wednesday night’s second leg 3-1.
UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg:
Ludogorets 3 Hapoel Be’erSheva 1 (Hapoel win on away goals)
Wednesday, 2 August, 2017
Travelling to Bulgaria with a 2-0 first leg lead, the Bulgarians needed to win by a three-goal margin to knock out the Israelis – and with 56 minutes on the clock, they had achieved just that.
Two goals in the first 33 minutes from Wanderson put the hosts in the ascendancy at the Ludogorets Arena, before Marcelinho’s 56th minute volley saw them in control.
However, just as it seemed the Israelis were heading on their way out, a quick counter-attack saw Anthony Nwakaeme released Mohammad Ghadir – and his shot looped over goalkeeper Jorge Broun via the defender’s outstretched leg.
They had the chance to make the game safe four minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty, but Nwakaeme horribly blazed his effort over. Things got seemingly worse for the visitors two minutes later when they were reduced to ten men – substitute Michael Ohana picking up his second yellow card of the match. Marcelinho then joined him, the referee spotting him lash out to earn a straight red, and despite six minutes of injury time, the Reds held on to secure a play-off tie and guarantee themselves at the very least, Europa League football next season.
Be’erSheva will discover who they face in the play-offs, when the draw is made on Friday.