Maccabi Tel Aviv and Zira played to a 1-1 draw as the yellow-and-blue eased into the third round of Conference League qualifying with a 3-0 aggregate score over the Azerbaijan squad. Up next for Vladen Ivic’s team is Aris from Greece which will present a much tougher test as they looks to punch their ticket to the playoff round.
“I wanted to see a different type of game as we wanted to play,” Ivic said. “I believe that we didn’t play well enough and we have to keep working in order to improve. I will analyze the game with the players and they just weren’t here. It looks like we didn’t prepare well enough for this match. We won the first game because we are serious and accrued quick early goals. We still have much to do in order to improve.”
Nir Bitton, who made his Maccabi Tel Aviv debut reflected win after returning to Israel, “It’s great to be back playing in Israel and I worked hard during the break to get to this point. I came to a big club that believes in me and I am here to give back everything that I have. The club knew that I had wanted to remain abroad but I am also a person that likes certainty in life and they showed me how much they really wanted me.”
Hapoel Beer Sheva defeated Dinamo Minsk 1-0 (3-1 on aggregate) as Rotem Hatuel scored the only goal of the match to send the southern reds into the third round of Conference League qualifying where they will meet Lugano from Switzerland.
“We had a lot to lose in this game after having winning last game unconvincingly,” Coach Elyaniv Barda said. “To play in an empty stadium is very hard to bring energy but we played well and we can take that from this game. We made it through this game and we have plenty to improve.”
Maccabi Netanya were knocked out of Europe after falling to Istanbul Baksaksehir 1-0 (1-2 on aggregate) as Youssouf Ndayishimiye headed home the lone goal of the match in the 9th minute of play. The defeat at the Netanya Stadium in the second leg of the second round of Conference League qualifying eliminated Benny Lam’s squad from continental action.
“All in all, I am proud of my players and supporters,” Lam began following the game. “We are a big club and a good team and we almost scored in the 95th minute. We proved that we were no less of a team but we played against a very tough side. We want to get back to Europe next season.”