Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba were both sent packing from the Europa League on Thursday, failing to overturn first-leg deficits in the second qualifying round.
Tel Aviv had little hope of recording a comeback against Astana of Kazakhstan after losing the first leg 3-0 on the road.
The Reds did at least save some pride with a 1-0 win in Larnaca, Cyprus, where both Israeli sides were forced to host their matches due to the security situation.
Brazilian midfielder Sasha scored Tel Aviv’s winner from the penalty spot in the 57th minute.
Beersheba only required a 1-0 win to advance on Thursday, but failed to convert its numerous chances in front of goal against RNK Split, ultimately drawing 0-0.
After controlling much of the first leg, only to concede two goals in the final 12 minutes to lose 2-1 in Croatia, Beersheba dominated Split in Larnaca. However, it desperately lacked cutting edge, with captain Elyaniv Barda the main culprit, missing three opportunities from close range he would expect to score 100 times out of 100.
Beersheba, which was playing in Europe for the first time in 17 years, was in complete control in the second half as well, but couldn’t break down Split’s defense despite its best efforts.
“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy, who refused to blame the frustrating exit on the fact his team couldn’t play its home leg in Israel and was forced to run for shelter time and again during its recent training sessions.
“This was a really one-sided match. The better team lost. We will have to lift ourselves and focus on the league.”
Following the early exits of Tel Aviv and Beersheba, Ironi Kiryat Shmona will be Israel’s lone representative in the third qualifying round, where it begins its continental campaign against Dinamo Moscow.
In other local soccer news, Maccabi Tel Aviv announced on Thursday that owner representative and acting general manager, Jack Angelides, will be stepping down at the end of the month to join Greek club PAO K Thessaloniki as president and CEO.
Angelides will leave a big void after being in charge of the daily running of the club since Jewish-Canadian owner Mitch Goldhar bought Maccabi five years ago.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this great club,” said Angelides, who claimed he never intended on staying in Israel for more than 2-3 years.
“Since Mitch Goldhar acquired ownership, the club has made great strides over the last five years in becoming a successful and professional organization and I am certain that as a result of the continued hard work of all the dedicated people who make up the club, Maccabi will continue to develop and set new standards in Israeli football.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi officially completed on Thursday the signings of Eden Ben-Basat from French side FC Toulouse and Nigerian midfielder Nosa Igiebor from Spanish outfit Real Betis, ensuring they will be able to play in next week’s Champions League third qualifying round first leg against NK Maribor of Slovenia.