Declan Gallagher was booked twice inside 60 seconds as Motherwell fell to a 3-0 Europa League defeat against Hapoel Beer-Sheva in Israel.
Motherwell looked comfortable for the vast majority of the first half and Christopher Long forced a good save before Miguel Vitor opened the scoring with a free header from a set-piece two minutes before the interval.
Gallagher headed over from a good chance before he was penalised while competing in the air at a free-kick he had just given away. Gallagher then conceded a penalty, which earned him his marching orders and saw Josue slot home to make it 2-0.
Hapoel’s man advantage told and Elton Acolatse added a third with seven minutes left.
Motherwell had travelled to locked-down Israel with confidence after beating Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie on Sunday and they quickly settled into the game and had their fair share of possession.
Stephen Robinson’s side had an early handball appeal when Allan Campbell’s cross appeared to hit an arm, but it was by the Hapoel player’s side.
Motherwell had the first chance midway through the half when Christopher Long collected Tony Watt’s low cross, turned his man and fired a good effort that was pushed wide by the home goalkeeper.
Trevor Carson turned past an ambitious effort from Dutch winger Acolatse but Motherwell, with Nathan McGinley in for the suspended Bevis Mugabi in a back three, were otherwise keeping their hosts at arm’s length.
The visitors had another chance when Stephen O’Donnell’s long throw ultimately fell for Watt but the striker could not connect properly.
Their first-half efforts were undone after Long conceded a free-kick 40 yards out on Hapoel’s right flank. Playmaker Josue swung in the free-kick and his fellow Portuguese Vitor headed home from six yards after losing O’Donnell on the edge of the box.
There was a major flashpoint moments later after Loai Taha charged into Watt after being caught slightly late by the striker. The Ukrainian referee took the easy option of showing both men yellow cards. He booked eight players in all, five of them Hapoel players,
Motherwell had a let-off early in the second half when McGinley appeared to trip Acolatse in the box. The Dutch forward soon got another chance but Carson saved with his feet.
After passing up two first-half chances to test Hapoel in the air by taking short free-kicks which came to nothing, Motherwell began to threaten from set-pieces. O’Hara had a header saved and the unmarked Gallagher headed over from a better chance.
Motherwell were taking chances at the back even before the midway point of the half and Liam Grimshaw came to McGinley’s rescue with a brilliant block before Gaetan Varenne fired just wide from 25 yards.
All hopes were extinguished when Gallagher was booked for chopping down Acolatse and then shown another yellow card after being adjudged to have pulled down Vitor as Josue fired in the resulting free-kick. The latter sent Carson the wrong way from the spot.
Acolatse compounded Motherwell’s misery when he fired into the corner after McGinley had dived into a rash challenge.
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