Bnei Yehuda and Beersheba advance, Mac TA ousted from Europe

“I’m proud of the players and they deserve all of the credit after only playing a few official matches so far this season,” said a reserved Abuksis following the conquest.

August 19, 2019 22:09
4 minute read.
Bnei Yehuda and Beersheba advance, Mac TA ousted from Europe

BEITAR JERUSALEM players celebrate during their 3-1 victory over Hapoel Beersheba in Sunday night’s Toto Cup semifinal at Teddy Stadium in the capital.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Israel’s Bnei Yehuda defeated Neftchi Baku 2-1 in the second leg of their third-round Europa League qualifying tie to advance to the playoff round of the competition, where Swedish powerhouse Malmo will be waiting.

Goals by Dor Jan and Tambi Sagas helped Yossi Abuksis’s squad add to its two away-goals from the 2-2 draw in Azerbaijan, and helped propel the orange side to the surprising victory over perennial European participant.

The Tel Aviv-based club came out of the gate strong and took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute when an active Avishay Cohen sent a cross to Dor Jan, who put the ball home behind the Neftchi keeper. Bnei Yehuda continued to press the Baku-based team and found a second marker as Jan once again took part in the scoring by assisting on Sabas’s 66th-minute marker.

Emin Makhmudov pulled a goal back via a penalty for the visitors deep into second-half injury time, but it was too little, too late as the Hatikva neighborhood crew moved on in continental play.

“I’m proud of the players and they deserve all of the credit after only playing a few official matches so far this season,” said a reserved Abuksis following the conquest.

“We all work together and we are here because of that effort that we have made as a team. This is part of the whole structure of the club, from the top all the way down, we work together as one unit.”

Abuksis also spoke about his club’s next challenge, which will see Bnei Yehuda travel to Scandinavia on Thursday night for the first of two matches for the right to advance to the group stages of the Europa League.

“We have the belief that we can advance over Malmo, but we will stay humble and work hard as we prepare for the first match in Sweden,” said Abuksis.

The star of the match, Jan also spoke about the victory.

“We prepared well and we deserved to win today by working hard and showing our quality on the pitch. We must keep dreaming as we advance in the Europa League.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba dropped Norrkoping 3-1 in the return leg of their third-round Europa League qualifying tilt to move on in continental play, where it will now face Feyenoord from Holland. Niv Zrihan was the main man for Barak Bachar’s squad as the 60th-minute substitute recorded a second-half brace to help his side advance after last week’s 1-1 draw in Sweden.

Nigel Hasselbaink also scored for the southern Reds while Rasmus Lauritsen answered for Norrkoping.

“There are no easy games in Europe and there is a lot of tactics involved,” explained Bachar. “You have to be completely concentrated for 90-plus minutes at these levels as we have now advanced over two quality clubs.”

Bachar also complimented Zrihan for his scoring prowess.

“[Nir] has been performing very well in training for some time and he deserved the minutes he received. I’m sure he will continue to help us as the season goes on.”

“It’s great to score, especially in Europe,” said a jubilant Zrihan. “We won’t be under pressure against Feyenoord and this is why we play football, to play versus teams that we saw on television as children. We will go into the playoffs with the objective to advance.”

In a surprising development, Maccabi Tel Aviv was bounced from continental play after falling to Suduva 2-1 in Lithuania. After losing in Israel the previous week by the same disappointing 2-1 score, Vladimir Ivic’s squad couldn’t answer the bell against Suduva in the second leg of the Europa League third-round qualifying contest. After two first-half goals by the Lithuanian hosts, Nick Blackman scored late in the game for the yellow-and-blue off of a rebound.

“We suffered the consequences from our first-leg loss, but we played better in the second match,” commented Ivic. “Sometimes you can come up with 15 chances and just not score. We have to continue to work hard and give 100% the rest of the way this coming season.”

In other Israeli soccer action, the Toto Cup finals were set on Sunday night as Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv will play for the title.

Roni Levy’s Jerusalem squad disposed of Hapoel Beersheba 3-1 thanks to tallies from Shalom Edri, Gaetan Varenne and an own-goal by Marwan Kabha, while Jose Angel Carrillo answered for the visitors, who played with their second squad due to their European tilt later in the week.

The yellow-and-blue slipped by Kiryat Shmona 1-0 up north on an Eylon Almog second-half header that was accidentally batted into the goal by ’keeper Dziugas Bartkus.

The championship game will be played in late September as Maccabi will look to win the trophy for a third consecutive season.

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