Ironi Kiryat Shmona off to a losing Europa start
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Ironi Kiryat Shmona off to a losing Europa start

EUROPALGEIroni Kiryat Shmona got their Europa League qualifying campaign off to a losing start on Thursday night after they were beaten 2-1 by Czech side Slovan Liberec.

However, the Israeli remain confident they can progress to the play-off stage, after Ahmed Abed’s last minute strike means they need just a 1-0 lead in next week’s second leg in Israel.

Dzon Delarge fired the Czechs ahead in just the second minute, before Herolind Shala doubled the lead with six minutes on the clock.

Kiryat Shmona coach Salah Hasarma said: “We didn’t play well in the first half and barely registered any chances, we improved after the interval but ended up conceding on the break. I’m glad that we continued pushing and netted a goal, which is very significant ahead of next week. We still have to win at home and I believe we will do so.”

Hasarma became the first Israeli-Arab coach to lead a top-flight Israeli club under Jewish ownership and said: “This was our first official match of the season and unfortunately it took us some time to find our rhythm, I’m glad we managed to improve our play in the second half and scored an important goal, leaving the tie wide open.”

Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem have been fined 3,000 euros by UEFA following disturbances between Belgian side Charleroi two weeks ago. The club are still though awaiting to find out if they will be disciplined, with UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body yet to make a decision. Charleroi were fined 28,000 euros and had one of its stands in their third qualifying round first leg against Ukrainian side Zorya, closed last night.

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