Maccabi Tel Aviv slipped by Aris Thessaloniki 3-2 on aggregate despite falling 2-1 in the second leg of their UEFA Conference League third round qualifying tie to move into the playoff round where they will face Nice. The yellow-and-blue midfielder Dan Glazer was issued a red card in the 57th minute which led to a penalty goal for the hosts, but thanks to Eran Zahavi’s second half strike, Vladen Ivic’s side was able to make it through to the next round of play.
After a goalless first half, the Scottish referee John Beaton lost control of the match and issued a questionable red card to Dan Glazer which led to an Andre Gray for a 1-0 Aris lead in the 60th minute. With Maccabi Tel Aviv reduced to 10-men, Ivic inserted Eran Zahavi as the striker looked to lift some of the pressure off of the visitors with a goal and that’s exactly what he did less than ten minuets after entering the fray.
Gaby Kanichowsky gave Zahavi a brilliant ball which freed up #7 to go in all alone on keeper Julian as the striker beat the host shot stop cleanly to draw Maccabi even at 1-1. However, Chiek Doukoure scored in the 81st minute to give Aris a one goal lead once again and close the aggregate gap to 2-1.
But Ivic’s squad was able to hold on over the final minutes to punch their ticket to the playoff round where French outfit Nice who drew 1-1 with Toulouse in their Ligue 1 opener will be waiting.
Hapoel Beer Sheva dominated Lugano 3-1 in the second led of their UEFA Conference League third round matchup and took the two-legged tie 5-1 to advance to the playoff round where they will meet Craiova for the right to play in the group stages of the competition.
Elyaniv Barda’s squad came out a tad slow in the first half but picked up the pace after keeper Omri Glazer saved Jonathan Sabbatini’s 42nd minute penalty as the southern Reds scored three second half goals to secure the impressive victory.
Next up will be a date with Universitatea Craiova who easily disposed of Zorya Luhansk 3-0 in the second leg of their tie to take the two games 3-1 on aggregate. Ironically the Ukrainian side is coached by former Maccabi Tel Aviv bench boss Patrick van Leeuwen who is assisted by the one time Maccabi Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld. The playoff round gets underway next Thursday night in Romania while the second leg will be played at Turner Stadium in Beer Sheva.
After a goalless first half thanks to a big penalty stop by Omri Glazer, Barda’s squad poured on the offense as Miguel Vitor headed home a Ramzi Safouri corner kick to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute. A quarter hour later, Vitor was once involved in the scoring as he was tangled up with Albian Hajdari who accidentally knocked the ball into his own goal to give Beer Sheva a 2-0 advantage.
Ousmane Doumbia pulled the visitors to within one goal on a penalty but Rotem Hatual slotted home the southern Reds third goal to wrap up the two matches with a 5-1 aggregate victory to move into the playoff round.
“Our first half was not very good to say the least and nothing that we had practiced worked, “Beer Sheva coach Barda said. “I believe that Omri Glazer kept us alive in the first half as we could have gotten into some big trouble. But we palled much better in the second half answer saw that all of the changes we made allowed us to score three goals against a very strong team. We may have finished this series but now we have another one. We will study Craiova very well and there are no excuses.”
The man of the match, Beer Sheva captain Miguel Vitor reflected on the win, “Our main goal was to advance. We spoke about this before the match as to how we can’t blow the chance to move on. We didn’t play well and it’s just the start of the season, but we will improve.”