Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's players and staff breathed a huge sigh of relief Thursday night, after the team defeated Andorran club Santa Coloma 4-0 and advanced to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup.
After suffering an embarrassing 1-0 loss in the first leg two weeks ago, Maccabi was in danger of experiencing one of the most humiliating days in its history. But the hosts scored two early goals to take an aggregate lead and, despite going a man down in the 27th minute, extended their lead in the second half.
Yannick Kamanan scored Tel Aviv's opener in the 12th minute of his home debut and Erez Mesika doubled the advantage 13 minutes later. Midfielder Yossi Shivhon got on the score sheet in the 63rd minute and Kamanan put the tie beyond doubt with his second goal seven minutes later.
"We felt very bad after the first leg, but we had no doubt we would win tonight," Tel Aviv captain Avi Nimni said. "Even the biggest teams in Europe have difficulties at the start of the season. I hope that in the next round we won't trip up in the way we did in Andorra."
Maccabi will be seeded in the draw for the second qualifying round. The draw will take place Friday afternoon, and Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya will also take part.
Maccabi knew an early goal would open the floodgates and the side went on the attack right from the start. Shivhon had Maccabi's first chance in the fourth minute, but his excellent shot was kept out by an equally good save from the Andorran 'keeper.
Tel Aviv wouldn't have to wait much longer before taking the lead. In the 12th minute, Kamanan controlled Shivhon's lobbed pass with his head and blasted the ball in with his left foot from the center of the box.
The early goal released a lot of pressure and within two minutes the team almost doubled its lead. Mesika was left with the simple task of tapping the ball into the net from 10 meters out, but he blasted it against the crossbar. But in the 25th minute he redeemed himself and scored the crucial second goal on a powerful left-footed shot from the edge of the area that left the Andorran 'keeper with no chance.
The second goal should have ensured that Maccabi would cruise for the remainder of the match. But two minutes later, defender Ori Sheetrit was sent off. The referee decided he had struck an Andorran player away from play and gave him a red card.
Despite going down to 10 men, Maccabi still dominated play and could have increased its lead in the 34th minute. Shivhon's shot got the better of the 'keeper, but an Andorran defender made a goalmouth clearance.
In the 63rd minute, Shivhon finally scored the goal he so deserved. The midfielder picked up a loose ball 30 meters out and slotted it in from the edge of the box.
Seven minutes later, Kamanan wrapped up the scoring with his second goal on a tap-in from two meters out.