Maccabi Tel Aviv teammates celebrating their club’s progress to the Champions League group stage, August 25, 2015.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv experienced another humbling night in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, remaining without a point or a goal following a 2-0 defeat to Dynamo Kiev at Haifa Stadium.
Maccabi was outplayed in a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea in London in its group stage opener two weeks ago, but was still confident of getting off the mark against Kiev, which was considered to be the weakest of Tel Aviv’s opponents in a group which also includes Porto.
However, even the third-best team in Group G was far superior to the threetime reigning Israeli champion on Tuesday, scoring after three minutes through Andriy Yarmolenko and all but securing the victory five minutes into the second half following Junior Moraes’s goal.
With back-to-back matches against Porto coming up, Maccabi will already be thinking about at least making sure it doesn’t join the 2009/10 Maccabi Haifa as the only teams in the competition’s history to end the group stage without picking up a point or scoring a goal.
Maccabi coach Slavisa Jokanovic made just two changes to the lineup that beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0 in Premier League action at the same stadium three days earlier. However, the yellow-and-blue was quickly reminded of the differences between local competition and the Champions League.
It took Kiev star Yarmolenko just three minutes to give the visitors the lead, with Derlis Gonzalez’s through ball slicing the Maccabi defense and leaving the striker with an easy finish in front of Predrag Rajkovic.
It took Maccabi almost 30 minutes to find its footing in Haifa, with Dynamo dominating possession and bossing the yellow-and-blue around.
However, unlike in the humbling loss against Chelsea, Tel Aviv did finally show it is capable of competing in the group stage in the final 15 minutes of the first half, reaching a couple of decent chances to level the score.
After scoring in seven consecutive matches over all competitions, including five goals in Maccabi’s final three Champions League qualifiers, captain Eran Zahavi was desperate to break his barren spell by his standards. However, his low shot was denied by Olexandr Shovkovskiy in the 31st minute, and the midfielder failed to find the back of the net for a fifth consecutive contest.
Rajkovic was well placed to deny Moraes a minute later to keep Maccabi within a goal, but Kiev still led at the break after Eden Ban-Basat sent his header wide with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Maccabi exited the dressing rooms in an optimistic mood after its positive finish to the first half, but its enthusiasm would soon be extinguished. Gonzalez did all the hard work cutting in from the left flank, leaving the ball for Moraes, who gave Rajkovic no chance with his clinical finish.
Maccabi never really came close to even reducing the deficit and has got plenty to mull over ahead of the remainder of its campaign.
In the other Group G encounter, Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas broke the Champions League appearance record in his team’s 2-1 win against Chelsea at Estadio do Dragao. Andre Andre (39) and Maicon (52) scored for Porto, with Willian (45) finding the back of the net for the visitors.
Casillas played his 152nd match in the competition, breaking the record he shared with former Barcelona midfielder Xavi.