Yellow-and-blue fight another day

Maccabi TA stumbles at Mogren but advances 3-2 on aggregate; Bnei Yehuda out

Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer
(photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Despite losing 2-1 to FK Mogren in Montenegro, Maccabi Tel Aviv advanced to the third qualifying round of the Europa League on Thursday night. However, Bnei Yehuda was sent packing after a humbling 1-0 home defeat to Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers.
Maccabi claimed a 3-2 aggregate victory over Mogren thanks to its 2-0 win at Bloomfield Stadium last week. But if it doesn’t register a significant improvement against Greece’s Olympiacos in the first leg of the third qualifying round next Thursday it could find itself on the wrong end of an embarrassing scoreline in Athens.
“We achieved our goal, but it is never nice to lose,” said Maccabi coach Yossi Mizrahi. “It is a shame we lost. We will have to learn from this match. We can’t afford to look like this against Olympiacos.”
Bnei Yehuda was confident of progressing after drawing 1-1 in Dublin last week, but it wasted chance after chance on Thursday and was knocked out after conceding a poor goal in the 70th minute.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Bnei Yehuda coach Dror Kashtan, who was hoping to host Italy’s Juventus next week. “We controlled the match and reached chances. However, we couldn’t find the back of the net and they scored a fluky goal.”
Also Thursday, Dinamo Minsk completed a 10-1 aggregate victory over JK Sillamae Kalev, booking a third round meeting with Maccabi Haifa, which will host the first leg at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium next Thursday.
In Montenegro, Maccabi got off to a good start and scored the crucial away goal after just seven minutes.
Haris Medunjanin collected the ball after a nice team move and sent an accurate left-footed shot into the bottom right corner from 20 meters out.
Five minutes later, the visitors should have doubled their advantage, but Barak Itzhaki sent his effort centimeters wide.
Despite strolling throughout the remainder of the first half, Maccabi could have gone into the break with a greater lead.
Maor Buzaglo hit the post with his free-kick from 20 meters in the 42nd minute, with Medunjanin striking the woodwork from a similar distance two minutes later.
The hosts finally realized that they no longer had anything to lose at the start of the second half and they quickly exposed the frailties of Tel Aviv’s newly assembled back-four.
Danilo Culafic came close with his chip four minutes after the interval and nine minutes later he was toppled over in the box by Nivaldo, leaving the referee with no option but to point to the penalty spot.
Vladimir Gluscevic converted the spot kick and in the 80th minute he would pile further misery on Maccabi.
The Mogren captain was left all alone in the center of the box and he easily slotted his header beyond Liran Strauber.
The Montenegrins never came close to scoring the two further goals they needed to claim an aggregate victory, but they were delighted with their win and gave Maccabi plenty to ponder ahead of next week’s encounter with Olympiacos.
At Bloomfield, the visitors got off to the better start and were unlucky not to take the lead after four minutes.
Poor marking by Bnei Yehuda meant Dan Murray had all the time in the world to place his header, but the crossbar came to the hosts’ rescue.
Shamrock continued to control the match in the subsequent minutes, but it was Bnei Yehuda which squandered a golden opportunity after 25 minutes.
Liroy Zhairi slotted the ball through to Oz Raly, but he sent his shot straight at ’keeper Alan Mannus with the goal at his mercy.
Bnei Yehuda improved its play after the break, but Zhairi and Ilya Yavruyan were wasteful in front of goal.
The hosts would pay the price in the 70th minute when they struggled to defend against the most basic of throwins and the ball found its way to Thomas Stewart, who turned and scored the winner.