Maccabi Tel Aviv recorded one of the biggest upsets in its history on Thursday
night, while Maccabi Haifa was sent packing in humbling fashion.
losing 2-1 to Olympiacos in the first leg of the Europa League third qualifying
round last week, Tel Aviv knew it needed a slender 1-0 victory at Bloomfield
Stadium to advance, and it got exactly that to knock out the Greek
Roberto Colautti scored the only goal of the match in the 42nd
minute and the yellowand- blue held off their illustrious opponents to clinch
their place in the playoff round.
The draw for the playoff round will
take place in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday, with the two-legged tie to be
on August 19 and 26.
“We knew that if we prepared and studied and played
tactically sound, we would be able to achieve what seemed so impossible a
ago,” Maccabi coach Yossi Mizrahi said. “I told the players, ‘we won’t
against Olympiacos,’ especially not in our house, and we didn’t
Haifa was a firm favorite to advance in Belarus after its 1-
0 victory in the first leg at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, especially after
Dvalishvili (27) scored the opener on Thursday night.
would equalize before halftime, and after moving ahead at the start of
second half, clinched the tie in the 90th minute thanks to Anton
breaking Haifa hearts, which have yet to recover from the painful ending
season’s Premier League title race.
“We had the lead and we lost it
because we didn’t play well enough or smart enough,” said Haifa coach
Levy, who will be ruing his team’s many misses in the first leg. “After
second goal will lost our composure and we have got plenty of work to
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1, Olympiacos 0 (2-2 on aggregate, Maccabi Tel Aviv
advances on away goals) Tel Aviv, which has disappointed in Europe time
again since reaching the Champions League group stage in the 2004/05
opened with a lot of excitement, but there was little substance to its
Colautti registered Maccabi’s first attempt on goal four minutes
into the encounter, but his header sailed well over goalkeeper Antonis
While the hosts were at least trying to go forward,
Olympiacos was more than content to soak up the pressure and try and hit
yellow-and-blue on the break.
The Greeks’ game-plan seemed to be working
for the first 30 minutes of the match, but Maccabi seized control in the
third of the first half.
In the 30th minute, Haris Medunjanin tested
Nikopolidis from 20 meters out and Colautti was very nearly first to the
rebound. Four minutes later, Shiran Yeini found himself all alone three
from goal, but his woeful header was off-target.
Three minutes from the
break, however, Tel Aviv would make the breakthrough.
The Greeks’ defense
failed to clear the ball and Bloomfield erupted after Colautti scored
header from five meters out.
Knowing a 1-0 defeat would end its European
campaign, Olympiacos began to send more players forward at the start of
second half and it showed immediately.
Six minutes after the interval,
Diogo only had the ’keeper to beat, but he sent his shot straight at
Two minutes later, Maccabi fans’ hearts skipped a beat once
again when Enzo Maresca headed just wide from five meters out.
visitors continued to dominate the possession in the subsequent minutes,
they lacked a creative touch and after Diogo was sent off in stoppage
time for a
challenge on Strauber, Tel Aviv clinched the shock victory.
3, Maccabi Haifa 1 (Minsk wins 3-2 on aggregate) Haifa was confident of
progressing after its home win last week and seemed to be well on its
way in the
27th minute of the return leg in Belarus.
Dvalishvili passed the
challenge of one defender before slotting in the ball from seven meters
However, Maccabi’s euphoria would last for only eight
Goalkeeper Amir Edri, standing in for the injured Nir
Davidovich, could do nothing to stop Oleg Strakhanovich shot from
box that tied the game.
Nine minutes after the break, Haifa found itself
in deep trouble.
Putilo toyed with the Maccabi defense before shooting
past Edri to give Minsk the lead.
Thanks to its away goal, a 2- 1 defeat
was still enough for Haifa to advance, but the visitors could not hold
In the 90th minute, Putilo scored from 25 meters out, piling the
misery on a Haifa side still hurting after the end to last season.