Mixed fortunes for Israeli sides in Europa League

Mixed fortunes for Israeli sides in Europa League

Maccabi Tel Aviv claim impressive win in Holland, but Hapoel BeerSheva lose at home to Prague.

Andrew Sherwood is the Jewish News Sport and Community Editor

Eyal Golasa fired in Maccabi's late winner. Picture: Maccabi Tel Aviv FC
Eyal Golasa fired in Maccabi's late winner. Picture: Maccabi Tel Aviv FC

Israel’s two Europa League sides enjoyed differing fortunes on match day three of the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed their first points in the group as they got their campaign back on track with a fine 2-1 win in Holland against AZ Alkmaar.

Oscar Scarione fired them ahead with a ferocious half-volley in the 24th minute, having been set up by Haris Medunjanin, though the hosts leveled the score when Robert Muhren headed home from six yards out.

However, the Israelis sealed the match with a goal worthy winning of any match as Golasa let fly from distance to seal a famous win. Golasa said: “The match was very important to us because the group is very close and I’m happy that we won. Now it’s time to look ahead to Monday’s very difficult game and we’re focussed on that.”

Speaking about the game, he said: “We had been controlling the tempo and the ball. It’s true they may have had momentum after they had scored but we had chances and I’m happy we ended up winning the game. I was alone so I said to myself that I’d kick it at the goal.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the campaign, he said: “The group is really close and we did the job at a tough stadium against a very organised team. What’s most important is that we won and that we now can really concentrate on Monday’s match. Maccabi Haifa is a very tough team. We have a number of games in a row now and we have to get onto a good streak.” They next host Prague in Tel Aviv in two week’s time, where a win, plus victory at home to Irish side Dundalk should be enough to see them through to the last 32 of the competition.

There was though disappointment for Hapoel Be’erSheva as the Israeli champions suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Sparta Prague in their Group K clash. Despite dominating possession and creating 19 chances, substitute Matej Pulkrab swept in the Czech side’s winner in the 71st minute. Manager Barak Bachar said: “We had enough chances to win the match, but we couldn’t find the back of the net, Sparta deserves plenty of credit, but we were the better team and they hit us on the break.”

Pleased with his side’s overall performance, he said: “It isn’t that we had a really bad game or something, We played our game and did what we needed to do, but the bottom line is that we didn’t get the result we wanted.

“This is a painful defeat, but we still have hope. Their goal came against the run of play, but that can happen. It is okay to lose sometimes, but now we need to win in Prague.”

Sitting in joint-second place in the table alongside Southampton, they travel to Prague in two week’s time,

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