f Beitar Jerusalem’s Claudemir (right).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv joined Maccabi Haifa in the second qualifying round of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Beitar edged Sloboda Tuzla of Bosnia 1-0 on aggregate, with Omer Atzili scoring the only goal of the tie in the 66th minute of the second leg at Teddy Stadium on Thursday night.
Tel Aviv completed a 4-0 aggregate win over ND Gorica of Slovenia with a 1-0 victory on the road, with Yossi Benayoun scoring 10 minutes into his debut.
As last season’s State Cup holder, Haifa only enters the competition in the second qualifying round.
Beitar plays Omonia Nicosia of Cyprus next after it registered a 2-1 aggregate win over Banants of Armenia.
Tel Aviv’s opponent in the second round will be Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan, which completed a 6-0 aggregate victory over KS Teuta of Albania with a 5-0 win in the second leg on Thursday.
Haifa will face Nomme Kalju of Estonia, which overcame FK Trakai of Lithuania 5-3 on aggregate with a 4-1 victory in the second leg.
The first legs of the second qualifying round will be played next Thursday, with the second legs to be held the following week.
“There were many positives and I really like what I’m seeing from my players,” said new Beitar coach Ran Ben-Shimon.
“There is still a lot of work to be done.
We still need to add some pieces to the squad but we have an excellent base.”
Beitar struggled for most of Thursday’s second leg and owes its win to Atzili, who is in the midst of arbitration proceedings against the club, demanding to be released.
He drew the decisive penalty in the 65th minute, falling to the ground following a slight shove by defender Ivan Kostic, before converting the spot kick.
Tuzla was down to 10 men following Aldin Dzidic’s sending off in the 87th minute, receiving a second yellow card for elbowing Dan Einbinder in the face. However, Beitar still required an excellent stoppage-time save from goalkeeper Boris Kleyman, denying Mahir Karic’s header in the 94th minute to maintain the lead and secure Jerusalem’s progress.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv looks set to beat out Maccabi Haifa for the services of Eyal Golasa. The Israeli midfielder, who left Haifa for PAOK Thessaloniki two years ago, was released by the Greek club and has already turned down two offers from Haifa. Tel Aviv is in desperate need of reinforcements following the sale of Eran Zahavi to Guangzhou R&F of the Chinese league for $8 million.