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Maccabi falls to Kyiv 2:0 on Matchday Two

Dov Halickman Photography

Maccabi Tel Aviv took on Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday Two of the UEFA Champions League Group Stages at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa. The Yellow-and-Blue returned to the illustrious tournament after an absence of eleven years and played their first home match since 2004. However, Kyiv poured cold water on the return winning 2:0 on goals by Andriy Yarmolenko and Junior Moraes.

Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic started Serbian youngster Predrag Rajkovic in goal with a back four of Eitan Tibi and Tal Ben Haim as the central defenders. Eli Dasa played at right back and made his first Champions League appearance as Avi Rikan moved back from the midfield to play left back as he did Saturday night against Maccabi Haifa. Gal Alberman played in his usual defensive midfielder position with Dor Peretz starting to his left and Nikola Mitrovic on his right. Rounding out the starting lineup was Gili Vermouth, Eden Ben Basat and captain Eran Zahavi.

It didn’t take much time for a Champions League goal to be scored in Israel, unfortunately though it was by the feet of Dynamo Kyiv’s lethal striker Andriy Yarmolenko who stayed onside and beat Rajkovic to take a quick 1:0 lead in the 4th minute. However, Maccabi came back strong and began controlling the tempo of the first half when Eran Zahavi looked to have evened the score in the 9th minute but his goal was called offside.

Though Maccabi was holding the ball, chances were hard to come by and in the 22nd minute Danilo Silva picked Avi Rikan’s pocket and went in alone on Rajkovic but the ‘keeper was up to the task to keep the score at 1:0 Kyiv. Rikan made up for his error as he sent Zahavi in for a wonderful chance in the 32nd minute as his sharp angled shot was blocked by ‘keeper Olexander Shovkovskiy for a corner kick.

Kyiv would have a couple of wonderful opportunities by Junior Moraes and Yarmolenko but both chances were saved by Rajkovic giving Maccabi confidence as Dasa’s excellent ball to Ben Basat was headed just wide of the far post with Kyiv heading into the half with a slim 1:0 lead.

To begin the second half Maccabi made their first substitution of the match bringing on Tal Ben Chaim for an injured Eden Ben Basat as Maccabi looked for the equalizer. But it would be Junior Moraes who would find the back of the goal first to give Kyiv a 2:0 lead in the 50th minute, beating Rajkovic to the right corner and doubling the scoreline. Just minutes later, Zahavi would have a magnificent chance to cut the lead but his left side free kick just sailed over the Kyiv crossbar.

Maccabi brought on Barak Itzhaki for Mitrovic to try and jump start the offense in the 60th minute and Dor Micha for Gili Vermouth in the 78th minute but both moves were to no avail as Maccabi fell to the Ukrainian champions 2:0.