Israeli teams enjoyed a mixed fortune of Europa League results, with two sides progressing to the third qualifying round, but a humiliating defeat for Beitar Jerusalem.
Maccabi Tel Aviv completed a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate win over KR Reykjavik, as they came away from Iceland with a 2-0 win.
Second half strikes from Omer Atzily and substitute Dor Peretz wrapped up a comfortable win, with the side next facing Greek side Panionios next week, with the first leg taking place in Israel.
Head coach Jordi Cruyff said: “This was a good win. Once they scored in Israel we needed to play quicker and faster football here, moving the ball forward and we were prepared for their strength and physicality. We just began our season a few weeks ago and we are improving.
“We have played in Europe over the last few years including in the group stages three of the last four seasons. We have made a few adjustments with our players and waiting for more arrivals.”
Speaking about Panionios, he said: “They play direct football and are strong and physical. We will have to pay extra attention to their crosses but we are playing well from week to week and continue to improve.”
Beitar Jerusalem suffered a 4-0 thrashing in Bulgaria against Botev Plovdiv – a side who finished last year in seventh place. Having played out a 1-1 draw in Israel last week, Plamen Dimov fired the Bulgarians ahead in the 10th minute, with Viana Jardim Silva doubling their lead on the half-hour mark. Lachezar Baltanov made it 3-0 shortly after the break, Marcel Heister picked up a second yellow card 12 minutes from time, before Felipe Brisola rubbed salt in the wound, netting the home side’s fourth goal in the 90th minute.
There was though better news for Bnei Yehuda, who completed a 3-1 aggregate win over Slovakian side Trencin, winning the second leg 2-0 in Petah Tikva.
Mavis Tchibota broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half, before substitute Yuval Ashkenazi wrapped up the win five minutes from time.
Bnei Yehuda coach Yossi Abuksis said: “We didn’t play well in the first half, but we knew they would push forward in the second half and we converted our chances.”
Speaking about their next challenge – against Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, he said: “We know we need to continue and strengthen our squad and we will do that. I have yet to scout Zenit so I don’t know how we will be able to beat them.
“We need to make the most of this experience even if we don’t progress. No one is giving us a chance but this is soccer and anything is possible.”