MACCABI TEL AVIV forward Nick Blackman.
(photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
Maccabi Tel Aviv won’t want to remember much from its 2017/18 Europa League group stage campaign, but at least it avoided making unwanted European soccer history on Thursday night.
Maccabi defeated Villarreal 1-0 in Spain, picking up its first win in its sixth and final group game to ensure it didn’t become the first team in the history of the Europa League to fail to score a single goal in an entire group campaign.
Nick Blackman netted the winner in the 60th minute against a second-string Villarreal side that had already secured first place in the group prior to the match.
The yellow-and-blue took its tally to four points with a combined goal difference of 1-8, but still finished the group in last place.
Hapoel Beersheba also completed its Europa League group campaign on Thursday when it hosted Viktoria Plzen.
Beersheba had lost any hope of progressing with the 1-0 defeat to Lugano in Switzerland two weeks ago.
While the team was aiming to end the group stage on a sweet note, everyone connected with the club was far more concerned on Thursday with the outcome of defender Shir Tzedek’s anti-doping tribunal held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland earlier in the day.
Tzedek hasn’t played for the team since September after testing positive for the stimulant Octopamine following the Champions League qualifier against Maribor. Tzedek’s representatives told the UEFA panel on Thursday that the banned substance entered his body inadvertently and that Octopamine wasn’t listed in the ingredients of the food supplement he was given by Hapoel Beersheba’s medical staff.
Tzedek could nevertheless be banned for up to two years, with the verdict to be announced over the coming weeks.