STEPHEN ROBINSON was left ruing his side’s naivety after Hapoel Be’er Sheva ran out 3-0 winners in the sweltering heat of Israel last night.

A header from Miguel Vitor on the cusp of half-time gave the Israelis the lead before a penalty from Josue and a late third from Elton Acolatse ensured the Steelmen’s European run came to an abrupt halt.

“We are thinking it’s a missed opportunity,” Robinson said. ““We got punished for a couple of bits of quality and slipping up at set pieces.

“We had so much of the game. We were disciplined and organised and had a couple of great chances, with their goalkeeper making a few great saves.

“I thought we did every so well at times but to concede at set plays at this level was so disappointing.

“We were a bit naive but overall I was pleased with the young lads and there are lessons to learn.”

Motherwell started the game in a positive fashion, breaking forward regularly with pace and moving the ball into promising positions but they just lacked that final ball and were unable to test Ohad Levita in the home goal.

Much of the Steelmen’s better passages of play came down the right, with the overlapping runs of Stephen O’Donnell catching out Be’er Sheva left-back Sean Goldberg on more than one occasion but the visitors failed to capitalise on their opportunities.

Ricky Lamie was left breathing a sigh of relief after he inadvertently chested the ball into the path of Jhonatan Agudelo, only for the Colombian striker to skew his first-time shot from inside the box over the bar.

Be’er Sheva were enjoying plenty of the ball at this point but they simply couldn’t find any gaps to exploit in the stubborn resistance that met them. Midfielder Marwan Kabha was soon in the book for an ill-judged sliding tackle from behind on Allan Campbell as Motherwell started to gain the upper hand.

Robinson’s men almost took the lead midway through the first half when a drilled shot from Chris Long was tipped just wide by Levita as the away side began to turn the screw in search of that all-important opening goal.

Then, with minutes to go until the half-time whistle, disaster for Motherwell. Long shoved Josue over 40 yards out down the hosts’ left, and the former Porto player curled a delightful ball into the box from deep from the resulting free-kick. Miguel Vitor sped away from his marker and glanced a lovely diving header into the bottom-right corner to ensure Be’er Sheva went in at the interval with a lead to defend.

Undeterred, Motherwell came out for the second half with a renewed sense of urgency. In the first period, they sat back and relied on their shape to keep the opposition at bay but now they were chasing the game, they began pressing the opposition defence in the hope of forcing them into an error that never arrived.

Elton Acolatse nearly doubled his side’s advantage when a loose pass from Mark O’Hara sent the winger speeding through on goal but Trevor Carson stood firm to deny the former Ajax man.

Declan Gallagher spurned a glorious opportunity to level the scores when he got on the end of a free-kick by sneaking in at the back post but the Scotland internationalist’s header sailed harmlessly over the bar.

Robinson’s men continued to rachet up the pressure as Be’er Sheva looked to catch them out on the break, with the home side accumulating bookings for a series of niggly fouls on the Steelmen.

The game grew uglier as time wore on; the tackles that bit more reckless, the individual battles that bit more personal, the needle between the two sides getting that wee bit sharper.

Motherwell got a real scare with 20 minutes to go when Acolatse skipped down the wing only to be denied once again by Carson before the result was sealed minutes later.

Gallagher clambered over his man and dragged him to the ground following a Be’er Sheva cross and was rewarded with a red card for his efforts. Up stepped Josue from 12 yards, and the playmaker made no mistake to make it 2-0.

With the clock winding down, Acolatse then rubbed more salt in Motherwell’s wounds with a well-taken third after cutting in from the left to cap off the victory for the Israelis.