Maccabi Tel Aviv players celebrate 370.
(photo credit:Asaf Kliger)
They were soaked and frozen, but they couldn’t care one bit.
brave souls who came out to support Maccabi Tel Aviv in a drenched and frosty
Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday night were simply happy to have witnessed an
historic moment in their club’s history.
Maccabi secured its progress to
the knockout rounds of a continental competition for the first time ever on
Thursday, beating Girondins de Bordeaux 1-0 at Bloomfield to finish Europa
League Group F in second place behind Eintracht Frankfurt.
A draw would
have been enough for Maccabi, even had its rival for the runners- up position,
APOEL Nicosia, beaten Frankfurt in Germany. However, Maccabi wanted to advance
to the round of 32 in style and did so thanks to Eran Zahavi’s 74th-minute
winner from the penalty spot.
Frankfurt beat Nicosia 2-0 in the group’s
Despite facing a second-string Bordeaux lineup, Maccabi
struggled to create scoring opportunities in the driving rain.
didn’t register a single shot on target in the first half, failing to convert
the few chances they did manage to create.
Barak Itzhaki found himself
all alone five meters from the Bordeaux goal nine minutes into the second half,
but he sent his shot woefully wide.
Maccabi eventually made the
breakthrough in the 74th minute, courtesy of some much-needed help from the
Bordeaux’s captain on the night, Matthieu Chalme, kicked Munas
Dabbur’s head instead of the ball, resulting in a Maccabi penalty and a second
yellow card for the French defender.
Zahavi stepped up to slot in his
third goal of the group stage and Maccabi comfortably held on for the victory
over the 10-men of Bordeaux to end the group with an impressive 11
Maccabi will be among the 16 unseeded teams in Monday’s draw,
meaning it will host the first leg on February 20 before playing the second leg
on the road the following week.
As an unseeded team, Maccabi is set to
face either one of the Europa League group winners or one of the four best
third-place finishers in the Champions League group stage.
Italy, Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, Benfica of Portugal and FC Basel of
Switzerland, which beat Maccabi in the Champions League third qualifying round
earlier this season, are the four teams that were demoted from the Champions
League which could end up coming to Tel Aviv.
Among the Europa group
winners Maccabi could face are Tottenham of England, Rubin Kazan of Russia,
Valencia of Spain and Genk of Belgium.
The draw for the round of 16 will
also be made in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday following the draw for the round of
Later Thursday, Maccabi Haifa completed its Group L matches when it
hosted Shakhter Karagandy at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Both Haifa and
Karagandy lost any hope of qualifying long before Thursday’s match after
collecting just two points from their first five group games.
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