Maccabi Tel Aviv crash out of Europe in stunning fashion to Olympiacos

Mar 15, 2024 | Football

Maccabi Tel Aviv crashed out of Europe after to Olympiacos 6-1 (7-5 on aggregate) in the second leg of the UEFA Conference League Round of 16 in Serbia. The yellow-and-blue entered the return leg in Novi Sad holding what seemed to be an insurmountable 4-1 lead after defeating the Greeks in the first leg in Athens. However, José Luis Mendilibar‘s squad had something else in mind and with nothing to lose his squad played a wide open style of soccer that caused Robbie Keane’s side all kinds of issues from the get go.

Daniel Podence opened the scoring from inside of the box as he moved past a pair of Maccabi defenders and sent a low liner into the goal by the near post in the 10th minute. Things went from bad for worse for the yellow-and-blue when just a few minutes later Milson was substituted off due to injury setting the hosts defense off kilter.

Olympiacos scored yet again in the 36th minute as Podence stripped the ball and sent Kostas Fortunis on his way to double the advantage while Ayoub El Kaabi’s first half injury time header gave the visitors a 3-0 lead as they drew even on aggregate at 4-4 going into the break.

Maccabi saw signs of life when Gaby Kanichowsky was yanked down in the box and Eran Zahavi slotted home the penalty kick to g9 up by a marker however, El Kaabi’s brilliant bicycle kick beat yellow-and-blue keeper Roi Mishpati to draw even on aggregate at 5-5 as the match went into an extratime period.

With Keane’s squad backpedaling, Stevan Jovetic scored off a Panagiotis Retsos free kick in the 93rd minute while ten minutes later Olympiacos added an insurance goal by Youssef El-Arabi to send the Greeks into the quarterfinals and Maccabi home in absolute stunned silence.

“They played better than us and we had a difficult evening,” Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Robbie Keane said. “We did not expect such a defeat, congratulations to Olympiacos. There may have been a mental problem. The players always try to win, their qualities are very high, but we lost a lot of balls.It hurts to lose by such a margin. We will need great character to get out of this and concentrate on the domestic league. We have to believe that we can win games.”

“We really thought we could play a good game and get a good result,” Olympiacos Head Coach José Luis Mendilibar said. “But what we didn’t was talk about qualifying. In our mind we wanted to put on a good showing and achieve a good result. We started with confidence and when the second and third goals came we were filled with confidence. The penalty was quite difficult, but we didn’t think about qualifying at the time.”

Eran Zahavi who scored Maccabi’s lone goal added, “This is a huge disappointment for us, we arrived with a big advantage but we didn’t perform. They did what they pleased on the pitch and we didn’t show up. You can’t concede six goals in Europe and continue on in this competition. It’s a bittersweet ending to a great campaign. We didn’t want it badly enough and unfortunately it’s impossible to advance like that. Instead of making history, we unfortunately we went the opposite direction.”

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