Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem moved a step closer to securing their place in next season’s Europa League, as they booked their places in the second qualifying round.
Tel Aviv went into the second leg, on the back of a 3-0 home win over Slovenian side Gorica, with Yossi Benayoun, on his debut, scoring in the tenth minute, to secure a 4-0 aggregate win. They next face Kazakhstan side FC Kairat Almaty, travelling away for the first leg.
Benayoun told the club’s official website: “It’s always great to score but what’s most important is that we advanced to the next round. I was happy to have the opportunity to play for the first time this evening.”
Reflecting on their opponents, he said: “I think that this was the toughest team we could’ve have gotten at this stage. They have some good players like Arshavin and Tymoshchuk as well as other quality foreign players. It will be difficult but we have a good team and we believe in ourselves. This will not be an easy battle.”
Beitar Jerusalem join them in the second qualifying round after they overcame Bosnia & Herzegovina side, Sloboda Tuzla. With the first leg tied at 0-0, the Israelis enjoyed home advantage as Omar Atzili’s 67th minute penalty proved to be the difference.
Manager Ben Shimon said: “We got a bit of the luck that you need, but the group will progress from week to week and will be better. The main thing is to go through these early stages and with that the ability improves, I agree that we need to be better.”
They next face Cypriot side AC Omonia, with the first leg taking place in Israel.
The two sides join Maccabi Haifa in the second qualifying round, they face Estonian side JK Nomme Kalju, with the first leg in Israel. All three first leg ties take place on Thursday, while 48 hours earlier on Tuesday evening, Hapoel Beer Sheva travel to Moldova for the first leg of their second qualifying round Champions League tie against FC Sheriff Tiraspol.