Perica gives Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 advantage over Nice, Beer Sheva draws at Craiova

Aug 19, 2022 | Football

Maccabi Tel Aviv slipped by OGC Nice 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a late second half goal by Stipe Perica in the first leg of UEFA Conference League Playoff Round action.

Mitch Goldhar – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

In the presence of owner Mitch Godlhar who was making his first visit to the new Bloomfield Stadium, the yellow-and-blue faced a tough French squad that featured the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Andy Delort on the attack along with star keeper Kasper Schmeichel. Maccabi countered with Eran Zahavi up front, who made his first start of the season alongside striker Djorde Jovanovic but it was shot stopper Daniel Peretz who made the stunning saves time and time again to stymie Nice as Vladen Ivic’s squad were able to keep Lucian Favre’s charges at bay throughout the contest.

Stipe Perica – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Stipe Perica came on in the 69th minute for Zahavi and netted the winner five minutes later when Jovanovic headed the Croatian marksman the ball on the run as he flicked it over an oncoming Schmeichel to take the one goal advantage to the French Riviera next week where Maccabi will look to advance to the group stages.

“Our second half was much better than the first,” Ivic began. “But this is just the first 90 minutes of 180 and the return leg is next week. We faced a very tough and strong opponent and in order to defeat them you need at least 15 players at their peak. Our keeper saved us numerous times and I want to congratulate my players who played a superb game.”

Eran Zahavi – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

“Maccabi Tel Aviv didn’t deserve to win,” Nice coach Lucian Favre declared. “We played well in the first half but couldn’t score. In the second half we juts came a part and we lost. We could have scored in the forts half and I believe that we can turnaround the result at our home.”

Daniel Peretz – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Keeper Daniel Peretz reflected on the game that was, “It was great but we didn’t qualify just yet. It’s only halftime. I played a good game as did the entire team and we gave everything we had on the pitch. This was not just another game and we aren’t scared of anyone. We respect every opponent and I love these type of games as it pushes you to the edge against top international players.”

Stipe Perica added, “It’s too early as we only played the first game of a two legged tie. We expect a tough match in the return leg and we will have to remain focused. They are a very good team with some excellent players. In my opinion this is the best team I played against during my time at Maccabi and they deserve a lot of respect.”

Hapoel Beer Sheva and Craiova drew 1-1 in Romania as the decisive match will be played next week at Turner Stadium. After a fairly even first half of play, Craiova defender Paul Papp was sent off after an incident at halftime wen the players were headed to their respective lockerrooms. With a man advantage, red hot Rotem Hatuel was able to head home the ball after Tomer Hemed’s attempt had been stopped at point blank range. However, Hatem Elhamed’s foul in the box saw him sent off and allowed Andrei Ivan to find the equalizer from the penalty spot as the game ended all knotted up.

“Craiova were in complete control over the first 30 minutes,” Beer Sheva coach Elyaniv Barda said. “It took us time to get into the game and when we were playing against 10-men it was an entirely different story and we were able to score. But we gave up a goal and also saw a man sent off so that is disappointing, but that’s soccer. I’m never happy when we don’t win but I believe that this was a decent result.”

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