ERANZAHAVI

Eran Zahavi celebrates scoring Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first goal of this season’s Champions League campaign

Maccabi Tel Aviv scored their first goal in this season’s Champions League, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from falling to a 3-1 home defeat to FC Porto.

It was goals from Cristian Tello, Andre Andre and Miguel Layun which strengthened the Portuguese side’s hold on Group G, before a late Eran Zahavi penalty gave the hosts some consolation.

Porto’s back-to-back home wins over Maccabi and Chelsea last month had given them a confidence that was plain to see despite a hostile atmosphere in the Israeli capital. But the visitors still had to come through some difficult moments in the early stages as Tal Ben Haim found the side netting then Zahavi also narrowly failed to connect in front of goal.

Porto took their chance to grab the lead in the 19th minute when Tello beat Maccabi goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic to strike home and silence the home fans. Vincent Aboubakar hit the woodwork before the break as the visitors built on their breakthrough and dominated possession for the remainder of the first half.

Maccabi’s reprieve was brief as Porto doubled their lead four minutes into the second half when Andre headed home a Maxi Pereira cross to bolster their advantage. The home side, who had come into the game pointless after losing their first three Group G games, showed admirable resolve as they pushed to reduce the deficit.

Once again Zahavi was at the centre of most of Maccabi’s attacking moves but could not find a breakthrough and slim home hopes were extinguished in the 72nd minute. Tello pressed towards the Maccabi box and picked out Layun running in from the left to strike Porto’s third and final goal past the despairing Rajkovic.

But Maccabi still had time to claim the goal their performance deserved four minutes later when Zahavi won a penalty and picked himself up to score past Iker Casillas. Maccabi coach Slaviša Jokanović, said: “We had a lot of chances that we didn’t convert. It was our best game yet. You could see the difference between the teams, but I’m very proud as we pushed ourselves. I believed we could pick up 18 points from the group stage – it’s my professional approach to want to win every match. We’re out of the competition but we still have some important matches coming up.”