Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa were both in continental action as the yellow-and-blue punched their ticket to the next round of the Conference League while the Greens fell to Rennes in Europa League play.
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Breidablik 2-1 to qualify for the Preliminary Knockout Round of the UEFA Conference League. Head Coach Robbie Keane’s squad picked up their 4th win on five games with one match remaining against Gent for the top spot in Group B. Should Maccabi indeed finish in first place they will go directly into the Knockout Phase and skip the preliminary in February.
The yellow-and-blue saw Dan Bitton score thanks to an Avishay Cohen ball in the first half to take a 1-0 lead by the break but the hosts knotted the game up when Gisli Eyjolfsson found the back of the goal in the 61st minute. However, Eran Zahavi scored a brilliant strike from 20 meters out that dipped right into the Icelandic goal to wrap up the win and take the 3-points.
“I’m very proud of the guys and it was a good performance in difficult circumstances,” Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Robbie Keane began. “There as a change of the pitch and time, the players didn’t complain and neither did we as we just got on with it. To get 4 wins in about 5 weeks playing in different countries full credit to the players for that achievement. It’s not easy when you’re not playing in your own stadium.”
Eran Zahavi spoke about the win and the pro-Hamas protest that was going on right outside of the stadium, “When the ball went into the goal there is always some sort of excitement but I wont lie that the situation that went on the entire game was not pleasant. So I believe that scoring is the best way to react to what was going on.”
Maccabi Haifa were blanked by Rennes 3-0 in Budapest as the Greens were handily overmatched by the French squad in Europa League play. Martin Terrier scored in the first half while Amine Gouiri and Faboien Rieder did the same in the second half to take the easy win. Rennes leads Group F with 12 points while Haifa finds themselves sitting in last place with just a single point but still have a chance to advance to the Preliminary Knockout Round of the Conference League with a win in their last match against Villarreal.
“This was a very poor game from us,” Haifa head coach Messay Dego said. I said before the match that this was a very tough time for us and we played against a quality, intensive opponent who are in tip top shape. We had a very tough time.”