YUVAL SPRUNGIN 88.
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv's hopes of reaching the first round of the UEFA Cup suffered a blow on Thursday night when the Israelis could only manage a 1-1 draw against Turkish side Erciyesspor in the first leg of the second qualifying round at Bloomfield Stadium.
The hosts dominated proceedings, but struggled to find the back of the net after conceding a goal to the second division team in the fifth minute of the match.
Yannick Kamanan tied the game for Tel Aviv in the 42nd minute, but the host rarely threatened in the final third of the match and was lucky to get away with a draw.
"We dictated the play for 80 minutes of the match and it's a shame we failed to score more than one goal," Tel Aviv coach Eli Cohen said after the game.
"I'm pleased with the way we played and I hope we will continue to play at this level. We knew they would try and steal an early goal and we shouldn't have conceded such a goal."
Just five minutes from the kickoff Maccabi's plans were thrown into disarray. Ilhan Ozbay clinically finished off a good team move, blasting the ball past the helpless Maccabi 'keeper Dragoslav Jevric.
The hosts almost replied immediately after Dan Roman's shot was parried by keeper Yosuf Soysal and Kamanan failed to score from three meters out.
Tel Aviv continued to control the possession as the half progressed, but scoring opportunities were hard to come by. In the 15th minute Roman's bullet went just wide of Soysal's goal and eight minutes later Omer Peretz's header was collected by the alert keeper.
Maccabi would have to wait another 15 minutes before recording its next serious shot at goal, with Avi Nimni curling his free kick from 20 meters out wide of the left post.
The equalizer arrived four minutes later thanks to some superb play by two of Maccabi's new signings. Frenchman Rudy Haddad expertly threaded through a pass to Kamanan who made no mistake with his right footed shot.
On the stroke of halftime Erciyesspor registered its second shot towards goal, with Huseyin Yogurtcu blasting his free kick from 25 meters out centimeters wide of Jevric's goal.
Seven minutes into the second half Tel Aviv fans breathed a huge sigh of relief after Burhan Coskun's header went dangerously close to Maccabi's goal.
In the 54th minute Tel Aviv would begin a two-minute barrage on the Erciyesspor goal. The first to come close to giving the yellow-and-blue the lead was Nimni who had his left footed shot deflected wide of goal. From the ensuing corner Kamanan came agonizingly near to scoring his second goal of the match and seconds later it was Peretz who almost scored, hitting the crossbar with a header.
Maccabi's best chance was still to come, with Kamanan squandering a superb opportunity, hitting his shot straight at the keeper from five meters out.
The hosts continued to push forward in the remainder of the second half, but time and again the team failed to convert its possession into shots on goal. The Turks almost snatched the win in stoppage time, but with only the keeper to beat Emrah Bozkurt hit an awful shot straight at Jevric and saved Maccabi's blushes.
Hapoel TA fans kicked out
Hapoel Tel Aviv supporters were ejected from the Pecara stadium in the first half of their team's 3-0 UEFA Cup second qualifying round first leg away win over Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg on Thursday after their firecrackers set light to several seats in the stadium.
The supporters lit the crackers while celebrating a goal by Brazilian midfielder Abedi who slotted home for the visiting side after 14 minutes.
But the celebrations got out of hand when some firecrackers were thrown on to the pitch and at least one landed in the home fans' section of the ground.
The referee stopped the game for some 20 minutes, leading the players off the pitch, before the decision was made to kick out the Hapoel fans.
The incident marred what had been an impressive opening for Hapoel culminating in the goal which came from a fine passing move. The ball came to Baruch Dego on the left hand side who swept it into the penalty area and the path of the Brazilian who scored with aplomb.
Just 10 minutes after the game was restarted Lior Asulin grabbed a second to give Hapoel a 2-0 lead.
Barach Dego bent in a fine free kick from outside the penalty area which the Siroki goalkeeper had to dive to the top right hand corner to keep out the goal. Abedi fired in the rebound which Asulin diverted into the back of the net.
The third goal was scored by Gavriel Dos Santos on 73 minutes when he headed in a Dego free kick.
Also Thursday, Maccabi Netanya faced Portuguese side UD Lieria in Portugal. It was 0-0 at halftime.
Jeremy Last and Jonny Hadi contributed to this report.