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Even though pleased by their excellent defeat of Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1, Hapoel Tel Aviv's players yesterday still thought they could have done better.

"There is great euphoria because we got a great result against a very good team, but it wasn't perfect," said veteran midfielder Yossi Abuksis. "We could have got an even better result and I think there was a foul on Sergei Clescenco in midfield that went unpunished by the referee," he continued.

Shimon Gershon, who missed a penalty in the 78th minute which would have put Hapoel 2-1 ahead said that perhaps his miss was all for the best. "The miss possibly did us some good. If I had scored in the 78th minute we would naturally have taken a more defensive approach and would have invited the opposition's pressure and then they may have equalized," the Hapoel captain said. "A goal in the last minute didn't give them enough time to get back into the game. Clearly it is all a matter of luck to score in the final stages but I think it shows that we are a very fit side as well," he continued.

Russians wary of Osterc

Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin will also have his headaches for the return leg near Moscow in two weeks' time.

Right back Milan Obradovic will miss the next match after picking up his fifth yellow card on Tuesday. Igor Chervechenko will also miss out after being sent off toward the end of the match following his foul on Ilan Bachar.

The Russian press roundly criticized Lokomotiv yesterday, but also said that the result should not be too much of an obstacle to advance to the next stage.

"It was not an impossible mission to beat Hapoel in Tel Aviv. The Israeli league is far weaker than the Russian league but maybe it would have been better to have played the first game in the snows of Romanskaya," said Pavel Alyushin of Sport Express.

The paper also wondered whether Semin had an answer to the stealth and determination of striker Milan Osterc. "He is an excellent, speedy striker and we do not seem have an answer to him," it said.