Hapoel Beersheba defeats Swiss team Lugano 2-1 in Europa League
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Hapoel Beersheba defeats Swiss team Lugano 2-1 in Europa League

In opening match of UEFA competition, Israelis make the most of home advantage with first goal after only two minutes

Illustrative: Hapoel Beersheba's Israeli midfielder Daniel Einbinder reacts after scoring during the UEFA Europa League football match between Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC and FC Lugano on September 14, 2017 at the Turner Stadium in Beersheba. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
Illustrative: Hapoel Beersheba's Israeli midfielder Daniel Einbinder reacts after scoring during the UEFA Europa League football match between Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC and FC Lugano on September 14, 2017 at the Turner Stadium in Beersheba. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Hapoel Beersheba beat FC Lugano of Switzerland 2-1 on Thursday in its opening game of the Europa League.

Hapoel, in red and white, made the most of the home advantage and was one goal up after only two minutes as Maor Melikson played a well-placed ball to Dan Einbinder who put the ball into the goal off the woodwork.

The team missed a chance to go 2-0 up after 11 minutes, when Vladimir Golemic conceded a penalty with a handball, but goalkeeper David Da Costa saved Tomáš Pekhart’s shot.

FC Lugano’s Italian midfielder Mario Piccinocchi (L) plays against Hapoel Beersheba’s Israeli midfielder Maharan Radi (R) during the UEFA Europa League football match between Hapoel Beersheba FC and FC Lugano on September 14, 2017 at Turner Stadium in Beersheba. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Shir Tzedek, who was man of the match, scored Beersheba’s second from the penalty spot in the 60th minute after Melikson was fouled by Golemic in the box.

Minutes later Tzedek went from hero to zero as he scored an own goal trying to block a drive from substitute Mattia Bottani.

The two teams had never faced each other before. Both came to Beersheba’s Turner Stadium having only won two of their last five matches in all competitions.

Beersheba has now scored two goals in each of its four European home games this season. It is playing in the Europa League competition for the second consecutive year, having made it to the round of 32 in 2016-17.

Hapoel Beersheba’s coach Barak Bakhar reacts during the UEFA Europa League football match between Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC and FC Lugano on September 14, 2017 at Turner Stadium in Beersheba. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Beersheba topped Israel’s Premier League for the past two years, whereas Lugano, from the Italian-speaking Ticino canton, came third in Switzerland’s top tier last season. This is the first time since 2003 that the Swiss team has played in any UEFA competition.

Hapoel Beersheba will play its next Europa League match on September 28 against Plzen in the Czech Republic.

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