MTAOUT

Picture: Maccabi Tel Aviv FC

Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday night after being beaten on away goals by Greek side Asteras.

Having a 2-0 deficit to make up from last week’s first leg in Greece, they got off to the worst possible start when Dorin Goian fired the visitors ahead in the 23rd minute.

Needing to score four times to earn a place in the group stages of this season’s competition, the Israelis who were once again hosting their opposition in Cyprus, did pull back level on the night just four minutes later through Barak Badash.

Eran Zahavi fired them ahead from the penalty spot nine minutes into the second half, and the miraculous comeback looked well and truly on the cards when Rade Prica fired in the loose rebound with 15 minutes still on the clock.

And they came desperately close to scoring the priceless fourth goal, only to see a chance in the final few minutes pulled wide of the near post.

Their defeat means Israel won’t have any representation in this season’s Champions League or Europa League competitions.