Hapoel Tel Avi 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hapoel Tel Aviv finally got off the mark in the Europa League group stage on Thursday night with an entertaining 3-3 draw at PSV Eindhoven.
However, the single point was not enough to keep alive Hapoel’s already lingering hopes of reaching the round of 32, with the Reds remaining bottom of Group C, nine points behind leader Eindhoven and eight points back of Legia Warsaw, with just two matches remaining.
Maccabi Tel Aviv has still got an outside chance of finishing among the top two in Group E, but it is hard to see that happening after Thursday’s disappointing performance in the 2-1 defeat to Stoke City at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi can still theoretically catch second-placed Besiktas, which it currently trails by five points. But the yellow- and-blue will have to significantly improve on its showing against Stoke if it has any intention of winning its next two matches – at home against Besiktas in four weeks time and at Dynamo Kiev, which is four points in front of Maccabi.
Maccabi Haifa has at least still got a good chance of progressing to the round of 32 despite losing 4-2 at Steaua Bucharest on Thursday. Goals from Leandro Tatu (13) and Florin Costea (28) put the Romanians in the driving seat, but Haifa tied the score at 2-2 by the break, thanks to goals from Eyal Meshumar (36) and Yaniv Katan (40).
Haifa seemed to be in an excellent position after Costea was sent off in the 61st minute following a rash tackle on Katan. However, Haifa couldn't make its extra man advantage count, with Cristian Tanase scoring twice (64, 84) to give Bucharest the win and close the gap on the Greens to a single point in the battle for second place in Group J.
At Bloomfield, Maccabi fans were surely expecting their team to throw
caution to the wind in a match they simply had to win, but Moti Ivanir’s
team rarely tested Stoke ’keeper Thomas Sorensen.
Stoke would take the lead six minutes into the second half after a
clinical Dean Whitehead finish before Peter Crouch easily doubled the
advantage in the 64th minute to end Maccabi’s hopes.
Roberto Colautti scored a consolation goal for Maccabi in stoppage time,
but it was too little too late for Tel Aviv, which deserved to return
home empty handed.
In Eindhoven, Hapoel took a stunning lead after 10 minutes at the
Phillips Stadium, with Omer Damari making no mistake with only
goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson to beat.
However, Hapoel’s lead wouldn’t last long, with PSV equalizing after less than two minutes.
Georginio Wijnaldum was given far too much space in the area and Apoula Edel could not come to Tel Aviv’s rescue.
It seemed extremely likely that the demoralizing equalizer would break
Hapoel’s spirit, but Toto Tamuz was a man on a mission on Thursday and
he put the visitors back in front in the 33rd minute.
Damari surged forward and Tamuz burst into the area before sending a powerful finish into the bottom left corner.
Hapoel maintained its lead until the break and just two minutes after halftime it sent PSV fans into shock with a third goal.
Isaksson tipped Walid Badier’s header onto the crossbar, but Tamuz was
first to the rebound and Tel Aviv moved into a commanding position
against all odds.
However, lax defending allowed Ola Toivonen to get PSV back into the
game in the 59th and Hapoel would completely lose control of the match
in the 72nd when Roei Gordana needlessly tackled Kevin Strootman from
behind in the center of the field and was sent off after being shown a
second yellow card.
Hapoel could not hold on for all three points with 10 men, with
Strootman tying the match at 3-3 with an excellent left-footed effort
from the edge of the area with three minutes to play.