DAN SHULMAN 150.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger and Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa booked its place in the Europa League third qualifying round in
record-breaking fashion in Azerbaijan on Thursday night, while Hapoel Tel Aviv
cruised to the next stage at Bloomfield Stadium.
Haifa crushed Xazar
Lankaran 8-0 under tight security less than 50 kilometers from the Iranian
border, registering the biggest win ever for an Israeli team in European
The previous record was 6-0, achieved twice by Maccabi Tel
Aviv and once by Haifa.
The Greens were in a rampant mood on Thursday,
leading 3-0 after 13 minutes and 5- 0 at halftime.
Haifa also equaled the
record for the largest aggregate triumph by an Israeli side, winning 10-0 over
the two legs after claiming a 2-0 home victory last week.
Haifa will face
FK Ventspils in the third qualifying round after the Latvians completed a 5-1
aggregate win over Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg with a 4-1 road victory on
The first leg will be played in Latvia next Thursday, with
Haifa to host the return leg the following week.
Hapoel Tel Aviv will
next play Pandurii Târgu Jiu of Romania after drawing 2-2 with PFC Beroe of
Bulgaria at Bloomfield on Thursday for a 6-3 aggregate victory.
defeated Levadia Tallinn of Estonia 4-0 on Thursday (4-0 on
Hapoel, which effectively guaranteed its progress by beating
Beroe 4-1 last week, will travel to Romania for the first leg next Thursday,
before hosting the second match a week later.
Hapoel Ramat Gan, which won
the State Cup last season after being relegated to the National League, will
begin its European adventure in the third qualifying round against GD
Estoril-Praia of Portugal.
Haifa almost found itself a goal down just 10
seconds into the match in Azerbaijan, with Zouhir Benouahi’s shot only being
denied by the post.
However, the early scare would soon be forgotten as
Haifa steamrolled the poor Lankaran. Alon Turgeman netted the opener in the
seventh minute and Yaniv Katan made it 2-0 three minutes later before Spanish
midfielder Ruben Rayos took Haifa’s lead to three goals after just 13
The goal of the match arrived in the 25h minute, with Shimon
Abuhazira launching a perfect volley from the edge of the area into the top
right corner for an unforgettable debut goal for the Greens.
relative lull in the action, Haifa hit the gas pedal once more in the final five
minutes of the first half, with Hen Ezra (41) and Abuhazira (44) ensuring the
Greens equaled the record for the most goals scored by an Israeli team on the
road even before halftime.
Rayos joined Abuhazira on two goals for the
match in the 62nd minute before substitute Eyal Golasa wrapped up Haifa’s
historic night 14 minutes from time.
At Bloomfield, Omer Damari handed
Hapoel the lead from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, but Plamen Krumov
equalized in first half stoppage time, catching goalkeeper Danny Amos off-guard
with his free kick.
Damari headed the Reds back into the lead in the 61st
minute, but a splendid strike by David Caiado 10 minutes later ensured the
Bulgarians at least regained some pride after last week’s humbling loss.