Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Tal Ben-Haim.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Maccabi Tel Aviv entered what is set to be its longest stretch of the season without a match with plenty to mull over after falling 1-0 to Irish team Dundalk in Dublin on Thursday, leaving its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League knockout rounds hanging by a thread.
Ciaran Kilduff scored the only goal of the match in the 72nd minute, leaving Maccabi without a point after two games in Group D. The yellow-and-blue suffered a 4-3 loss to Zenit Saint Petersburg in their opener in Netanya despite leading 3-0 until the 77th minute.
Maccabi didn’t play in the Premier League this weekend due to its participation in the Europa League group stage and Rosh Hashana. Tel Aviv defeated Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 in a match brought forward from this weekend to September 21 and doesn’t play again until it visits AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands in the Europa League on October 20.
There won’t be any action in the Premier League next weekend due to a break for international matches, with only one top flight game to take place the following weekend because of the High Holy Days when Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Petah Tikva meet in a postponed encounter.
Tel Aviv leads the Premier League standings by five points after winning five of its first six games, but has been far less successful in continental action.
Zenit already looks to be well on course for a place in the next stage, thrashing AZ 5-0 on Thursday to maintain its perfect record.
Maccabi’s battle for the second ticket to the Round of 32 will be against Dundalk, which has four points from the first two games, and AZ, which sits on one point.
“It’s disappointing not to take any points in two matches,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze.
“I’m disappointed because we played very slowly. But I do know that anything is possible and we can play better games going forward, but it won’t be easy.”
The Georgian lamented his side’s struggles in Group D.
“You have to understand that defeating clubs in the domestic league isn’t good enough for Europe where you have to come with more quality and that’s a challenge that I must solve,” added Arveladze.
Beersheba’s draw in Group K was deemed to be far more difficult than Maccabi’s, but it remained well placed to advance after registering a goalless deadlock against Southampton.
The English Premier League club and Beersheba each have four points, with Sparta Prague on three and Inter Milan still without a point.