The long road to qualifying for next season’s Europa League saw two Israeli sides claim positive results in the first leg of their first qualifying round ties.
Maccabi Tel Aviv recorded a comprehensive 3-0 win home over Slovenian side Gorica in their first round, thanks to Nosa Igiebor’s brace and strike from Orlando Sa.
Shota Arveladze, in charge of the club for the first time, said: “It’s the really early stages [of the season] with eight weeks to go until the start, which makes it difficult. On one hand it’s good to have official games, but it’s still pre-season mentality. We should have realised in the first 20 minutes that it was a real game.
“In the second half you could see what we were doing, and we slowed it down in the last five minutes as it’s not easy to run in this weather.
“In general I am happy and it’s good to start with a win. We controlled the game and it was good after our ten day training camp.”
Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem grounded out a 0-0 in Bosnia & Herzegovina, against Sloboda Tuzla. The second leg of both ties takes place on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa are already through to the second qualifying round draw, where they will fave either Estonian side JK Nomme Kalju or Lithuanian side FK Trakai, the latter won won the first leg 2-1.
Israeli champions Hapoel Beer Sheva take on Moldovan side FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the second qualifying round draw in the Champions League.