Bnei Yehuda defeated Neftci Baku 2:1 in the 2nd leg of their third round Europa League qualifying tie to advance to the playoff round of the competition where Swedish powerhouse Malmo will be waiting. Goals by Dor Jan and Tambi Sagas helped Yossi Abuksis’s squad add to their two away goals earned in a 2:2 draw last week in Azerbaijan to propel the orange side to the surprising victory over perennial European participant Neftci.
The Tel Aviv based club came out of the gates strong and took a 1:0 lead win the 14th minute when an active Avishay Cohen sent a cross to Dor Jan who put the ball home behind the Neftci keeper. Bnei Yehuda continued to press the Baku based team and found a second marker as Jan once again took part in the scoring by assisting on Tambi Sabas’s 66th minute goal. Emin Makhmudov pulled a goal back via a penalty for the visitors deep into second half injury time but it was too little too late as the Hatikva neighborhood crew moved on in continental play.
“I’m proud of the players and they deserve all of the credit after only playing a few official matches do far this season,” a reserved Yossi Abuksis explained following the contest. “We all work together and we are here because of that effort that we have made as a team. This is part of the whole structure of the club from the top all the way down, we work together as one unit.”
Abuksis also spoke about his club’s next challenge which will see Bnei Yehuda travel to Scandinavia for the first of two matches for the right to advance to the group stages of the Europa League, “We have the belief that we can advance over Malmo, but we will stay humble and work hard as we prepare for the first match in Sweden.”
The star of the match, Dor Jan also talked about the victory, “We prepared well and we deserved to win today. We worked hard and showed our quality on the pitch and we must keep dreaming as we advance in the Europa League.”
Hapoel Beer Sheva dropped Norrkoping 3:1 in the return leg of their third round Europa League tilt to move on in continental play where they will now face Feyenoord from Holland. Niv Zrihan was the main man for Barak Bachar’s squad as the 60th minute substitute recorded a second half brace to help his side advance after last week’s 1:1 draw in Sweden. Nigel Hasselbaink also scored for the southern reds while Rasmus Lauritsen answered for Norrkoping.
“There are no easy games in Europe and there is a lot of tactics involved,” explained Bachar. “You have to be completely concentrated for 90 plus minutes at these levels as we advanced over two quality clubs.”
He also complimented winger Niv Zrihan, “He was been performing very well in training for some time and he deserved the minutes he received. I’m sure he will continue to help us as the season goes on.”
“It’s great to score especially in Europe,” said a jubilant Zrihan. “We won’t be under pressure against Feyenoord and this is why we play football, to play versus teams that I saw on television as a child. We will go into the playoffs with the goal to advance.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv were bounced from continental play after falling to Suduva 2:1 in Lithuania. After losing in Israel last week by the same disappointing 2:1 score, Vladimir Ivic’s squad couldn’t answer the bell against Suduva in the second leg of their Europa League third round qualifying contest. After two first half goals by the hosts, Nick Blackman scored late in the game for the Yellow & Blue of a rebound.
“We suffered the consequences of the first leg loss but not the second match,” commented Ivic. “Sometimes you can come up with 15 chances and just not score. We have to continue to work hard and give 100% the rest of the way this coming season.”