Mac TA, Bnei Yehuda ease into 3rd round

Tel Aviv draws in Azerbaijan, Zeljeznicar next; BY wins 2-0, preps for Helsingborgs.

Eliran Atar 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Eliran Atar 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
A professional performance by Maccabi Tel Aviv saw it advance to the third qualifying round of the Europa League with little fanfare on Thursday, drawing 0-0 at Xazar Lankaran FK of Azerbaijan to claim a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Bnei Yehuda also sailed into the third qualifying round on Thursday, beating UE Sant Julià of Andorra 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium after claiming a 2-0 win on the road last week.
Maccabi was never in any real danger on Thursday – despite conceding an away goal at Bloomfield last week – limiting the hosts to only a couple of opportunities throughout the match.
“In matches like this, the main thing is to ensure your progress,” Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir said. “This wasn’t an easy match. We played a team that isn’t as weak as people might think. My players deserve a lot of credit for giving their all and fighting for every ball.”
Maccabi will visit FK Zeljeznicar in the first leg of the third qualifying round next Thursday, with the Bosnians drawing 0-0 with FC Sheriff of Moldova on Thursday to complete a 1-0 aggregate win.
The return leg will be played at Bloomfield the following week, and Ivanir is hoping to see progress from his team with the start of the Premier League season less than one month away.
“When players do what they are asked and we achieve our goal than we are pleased,” he said. “We are not delighted with the performance, but we adjusted our play to the conditions and to our opponent and we are pleased with the end result.”
Tel Aviv’s goalkeeper Guy Haimov had little work in Lankaran, with Xazar’s Emeka Opara reaching two good chances in the first half, but failing to find the target with any of them.
Maccabi recorded its best chance of the match in the 77th minute.
Eliran Atar found Moussa Konate with a back heel, and although the Senegalese could only hit the post with his shot, it was of little significance as Maccabi cruised in the remainder of the match.
At Bloomfield, Nenad Marinkovic scored the opener for Bnei Yehuda in the 16th minute, with Pedro Galvan capping the win two minutes from time.
Nevertheless, Bnei Yehuda will need to improve its play significantly if it’s to overcome Helsingborgs IF of Sweden in the next round.
“I’m not happy,” Bnei Yehuda coach Yossi Abuksis said. “We didn’t play well at all. We didn’t play smartly and that worries me. I’m very disappointed with the match.
“I know the Swedish teams quite well and Helsingborgs is top of its league midway through its season so this will be a completely different story.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which enters the competition in the third qualifying round, will host Liechtenstein’s FC Vaduz next Thursday after the minnows stunned FK Vojvodina of Serbia.
Vaduz recorded a 3-1 road win on Thursday to advance on away goals after losing to Vojvodina 2-0 at home last week.