American Exports: Gerzicich, Hapoel continue solid form

Bryan Gerzicich of Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona

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Photo courtesy of Maccabi Haifa

AMSTERDAM – Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona pulled a big one out of the fire to reach the Champions league third qualifying round on Tuesday night, scoring twice in the final 20 minutes to flip their tie against Slovakian title-holders Zilina with a 2-0 home victory.

The Los Angeles native was his usual tidy self in the middle of the park, as the Israeli champs overcame a 1-0 first leg deficit in thrilling manner. Shimon Abihazira's tie-winner with 11 minutes remaining sent Hapoel on to host Azerbaijani side Neftchi Baku in their third-round opener, to be played next week on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Also, Molde FK advanced without the services of injured winger Josh Gatt, closing out a 4-1 aggregate victory over Ventspils with a 1-1 draw in Latvia. It remains to be seen if the young American will be ready by the time the Norwegian champions host Swiss counterparts Basel next week to open third qualifying-round play.