Maccabi Haifa 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters/Darren Staples)
Maccabi Haifa took a significant step towards the Europa League round of 32 on
Thursday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv lost any realistic
chance of advancing.
Haifa impressed with a 5-0 thrashing of Steaua
Bucharest at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, and with six points from its first three
matches, can already secure its place in the next stage should it win in Romania
in two weeks time.
“We are in a good position in the group and if we
enter the match in Bucharest with the right attitude we can do it,” Haifa’s
delighted coach Elisha Levy said.
“Haifa played tonight one of its best
matches ever in European competition.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv, on the other
hand, is still searching for its first point in Group C after losing 1-0 to PSV
Eindhoven at Bloomfield Stadium, with Georginio Wijnaldum scoring the only goal
of the match from the penalty spot in the 70th minute.
Maccabi Tel Aviv
is also bottom of its group with just a single point after losing 3-0 at Stoke
Maccabi struggled from the start with the hosts’ physical
superiority and found itself three goals down as early as the 32nd minute. In
the 12th minute, Kenwyne Jones was carelessly left all alone in the center of
the box and headed in the opener direct from a corner kick.
poor marking in set pieces cost it dearly once more 12 minutes later, with
Cameron Jerome heading in Stoke’s second goal of the night.
defensive mix-up allowed Ryan Shotton to increase Stoke’s lead to 3-0 in the
32nd minute, with Jerome being sent off in the 42nd for elbowing Yoav Ziv and
Ziv being shown a red card in the 55th for recklessly kicking his boot at the
In Haifa, it was clear from the kickoff that both
teams were intent on playing attacking soccer and it was Haifa which crucially
made the most of its early chances.
After 10 minutes, captain Yaniv Katan
expertly threaded a ball through to Weeam Amasha and Haifa’s speedy striker
slotted in the opener.
Another 10 minutes passed, and after Bucharest
’keeper Razvan Stanca saved Eyal Golasa’s initial shot, Amasha was perfectly
placed to score his second of the night from the rebound with a splendid bicycle
The Romanians came centimeters away from cutting the deficit
moments later, but Leandro Tatu’s header went out off the post.
minutes from halftime the match was as good as over.
Bicfalvi could not cope with Amasha’s pace and was shown a red card after
bringing him down in the box and denying him a clear shot at goal.
stepped up to convert the spot kick and Haifa entered the break in cruise
control with a three-goal and a one-man advantage.
Katan had an ideal
opportunity to extend Haifa’s lead in the 65th minute after Amasha was tumbled
over in the box, resulting in a red card for Valentin Iliev.
captain smashed his penalty against the crossbar and the Greens had to wait
seven more minutes before scoring their fourth goal of the night.
Tawatha had time and space 20 meters out from goal after a Haifa corner kick and
his sharp left-footed attempt found the bottom right corner, giving him his
first ever goal in European competition.
Idan Vered piled the misery on
Bucharest with a fifth goal seven minutes later and Haifa will be hoping to
already book its place in the next stage of the Europa League when it plays in
Romania in two weeks time.
Israel’s representatives in the Europa League
will not have long to mull over Thursday’s results as they will already be back
in Premier League action on Sunday.
Haifa hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona,
Maccabi Tel Aviv, which lost to Kiryat Shmona earlier this week, welcomes
Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Ashdod SC.
Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Haifa, Hapoel Acre visits Hapoel Rishon Lezion,
Hapoel Beersheba goes to Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon welcomes Bnei
Betar Jerusalem visits Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.