Hapoel crush Benfica hopes
© AFP

Benfica's hopes of reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League were ended after they slipped to a surprise defeat at the hands of Group B minnows Hapoel Tel-Aviv. A brace from Eran Zahavi and a strike by Douglas da Silva condemned the Portuguese champions to a heavy defeat that ensures Schalke and Lyon progress to the knockout stage.

This defeat combined with Schalke's 3-0 win over Lyon was the worst possible combination of results for Benfica, with Jorge Jesus' men now four points behind the German outfit and three behind Lyon with one group match remaining. Lyon's better head-to-head record against Benfica ensures they cannot be overhauled on matchday six, and Benfica will now have to focus their efforts on fending off Hapoel for third place and a UEFA Europa League berth when they host Schalke on 7 December.

Benfica started far the more positive of the sides and inside two minutes Alan Kardec unleashed a shot from 25 yards which grabbed the attention of Vincent Enyeama, but sailed wide of the upright. The Portuguese side continued to probe in the opening exchanges and Nicolas Gaitan was twice denied by Enyeama before Eduardo Salvio saw his shot from the edge of the area well held by the Hapoel goalkeeper.

The hosts finally sparked into life midway through the half when Gil Vermouth chanced his arm from distance with an effort that just sailed wide. Hapoel's improved display was swiftly rewarded when they went ahead on 24 minutes. Shay Abutbul's free-kick from the right channel was not dealt with by the Benfica defence and Zahavi profited fully, sending a thumping header into the top-left corner.

Hapoel comfortably held their advantage to the interval, but after the restart it was the visitors making the running as they strove to get back on level terms. First Oscar Cardozo saw his shot from 12 yards flash wide of the right post, while moments later Fabio Coentrao's effort from the edge of the box was charged down by Douglas da Silva.

Enyeama then held on to Javi Garcia's speculative effort as Benfica grew ever more fraught. With Benfica pushing forward in search of the equaliser, gaps were appearing at the back and David Ben Dayan nearly exploited one such opening when he flashed an effort wide midway through the half.

The second goal arrived on 74 minutes when Benfica failed to clear Zahavi's corner to the near post and Douglas da Silva reacted quickest to lash home. Zahavi's long-range effort from 25 yards was saved by Roberto with eight minutes remaining, but the Israeli forward was rewarded with the second goal his display deserved in stoppage time, slotting home from Yossi Shivhon's centre.