Maccabi Tel Aviv has advanced to the Champions League Group Stages after drawing at home 1:1 against FC Basel in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League Playoff Round. With two away goals in a 2:2 draw last week in Switzerland, Maccabi will move on to the top European competition on aggregate 3:3. Eran Zahavi scored the decisive goal for Maccabi in the 24th minute with midfielder Nikola Mitrovic threading the needle to the superstar.
This will be Maccabi’s second appearance in the Group Stages of the Champions League with the first time coming exactly 11-years ago today in 2004 when they advanced by defeating PAOK.
Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic made only one change in the Maccabi starting lineup inserting an extra midfielder Nikola Mitrovic in place of striker Eden Ben Basat. This move allowed Eran Zahavi to play as the lone striker and allow Mitrovic in the midfield help control the tempo of the match.
Luca Zuffi would open up the scoring in the 11th minute taking a marvelous free kick and placing it into the top right hand corner out of the reach of Maccabi ‘keeper Juan Pablo giving Basel a 1:0 lead.
However, Maccabi leveled the score at 1:1 in the 24th minute as none other than Eran Zahavi would draw the hosts even on their first and only attempt of the match. Nikola Mitrovic split the Basel defense with a wonderful pass to Zahavi who was given one inch of free space and that would be all he would need to beat Tomas Vaclik.
The second half saw large swathes of time being dominated back and forth by Maccabi and Basel but intelligent substitutions by Jokanovic helped the Yellow-and-Blue preserve the result. Maccabi brought on Dor Peretz for Nosa Igiebor, Dor Micha for Tal Ben Chaim and a sentimental move bringing in Barak Itzahaki for Mitrovic who played the match of his life made all the difference for Maccabi to move on in Europe.
Keep following the Official Maccabi Tel Aviv for all of the latest news as the Yellow-and-Blue continue to march on in the Champions League!