Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem enjoyed differing results in their first leg play-off ties, as they look to qualify for the group stages of the competition.
Gal Alberman fired them ahead in the ninth minute, but Ahmed Said scored what could prove to be a crucial away goal for Croatians when he equalised ten minutes after the break.
Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Scarione ensured the Israelis take a 2-1 aggregate lead into the second leg, but Tel Aviv boss Shota Arveladze was disappointed with the result. He said: “I feel bad if course, especially when we could have done better. We could have had the ball longer sometimes and not pass under pressure. The first five or six balls we gave it away when they pressed. It took us some time to find the free man as quickly as we wanted. They are a good team with talent and quality. It may be disappointing but we have two games, this was just the first.”
Unhappy with how he felt is side didn’t perform for the entire 90 minutes, he said: “European games are a bit different. We won the game and scored two goals. Maybe we won’t disappear for a period of time like we do most games and that’s for all of us. Five or 10 minutes each match, but we may have to work on this so we can play a full 90 minutes.”
Speaking about next week’s second leg, he said: “This is something that is coming up. With this team we haven’t actually played an away game, Kairat was good but this away game will have an atmosphere that will be special when you like football.”
Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem have it all to do if they’re to reach the group stage, after they were beaten 2-1 at home by French side St-Etienne.
Idan Vered had given the Israelis a perfect start when he put them in front after just eight minutes, however, Fabien Lemoine equaliser on the quarter-hour mark and Jesús Rueda’s own goal means Beitar need to win in next week’s second leg in France.