Eran Zahavi 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
A year after being exiled by the club, Barak Itzhaki scored a precious opener
for Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday night before a Gal Alberman stoppage-time
strike gave the yellow-and-blue a 2-0 road victory over Gyori ETO of Hungary in
the first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round.
will be extremely confident of wrapping up its progress in the return leg at
Bloomfield Stadium next Tuesday thanks to Itzhaki’s 76thminute goal and
Alberman’s 94th-minute effort.
The 28-year-old Itzhaki was sent out on
loan to Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta last season after Maccabi deemed him
to be a negative influence on the squad.
However, he was brought back to
Israel after a comeback season in Cyprus and was Maccabi’s best player on the
pitch on Wednesday.
Itzhaki also created numerous other chances which his
teammates failed to convert, but Alberman ensured Maccabi registered a two-goal
win which should allow it to comfortably secure its progress next
To reach the group stage, Maccabi will need to not only overcome
Gyori, but also triumph in two more home-and-away ties in the third qualifying
round and the playoff stage.
Maccabi pressured the Hungarians in their
half right from the kickoff, forcing turnovers and dominating
Alberman registered the yellow- and-blue’s first shot on
target in the eighth minute with a powerful effort from the edge of the box, but
’keeper Lubos Kamenar was up to the task and also denied Maharan Radi two
Despite its promising start, Maccabi was fortunate not to
find itself a goal down in the 13th minute.
Roland Varga scored from
close range, but he was correctly adjudged to be offside and Maccabi was
Nevertheless, Gyori drew encouragement from coming so close to
netting the opener and Maccabi dropped a gear to hand the hosts the
Maccabi’s new Spanish goalkeeper Juan Pablo Colinas made an
impressive start in the yellow-and-blue, denying Varga’s long-range effort with
an acrobatic save.
The visitors came centimeters away from the opener 10
minutes after the interval, with Rade Prica’s glancing header leaving Kamenar
stranded, but just missing the target.
In the 66th minute it was Radi’s
turn to be wasteful, failing to find the back of the net despite only having the
‘keeper to beat, with Prica fluffing the rebound.
build-up play helped create many of Maccabi’s chances and he wasn’t far from
scoring himself in the 73rd minute, firing high from inside the
Three minutes later Itzhaki would complete the job.
minutes after coming on as a substitute, Dor Micha found Itzhaki with his cross
and the striker gave Kamenar no chance with a superb finish.
and Eran Zahavi all should have really doubled Maccabi’s lead in the final 10
minutes, but their misses were soon forgotten, with Alberman’s goal giving Tel
Aviv a cushion which should see it easily advance next week.