Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Qarabag 1-0 to begin their 2020/21 Europa League campaign on the right foot thanks to Yonatan Cohen’s 10th minute goal that held up over the 90 minutes. The Yellow & Blue collected the three points and their first win in continental competition since their 1-0 victory at Villarreal in 2017.
Next week Giorgos Donis’s squad heads to Turkey for a date with Sivasspor who fell this evening to Villarreal 5-3.
Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted Qarabag on Matchday One of the Europa League at Bloomfield Stadium. The Yellow & Blue returned to the group stages for a continental competition for the first time since the 2017/18 season as they welcomed the Azerbaijani champion to Israel.
Giorgos Donis’s squad hadn’t played a match in close to a month due to the country wide lockdown and their last clash was at Salzburg in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. Donis was ejected during that clash and was unable to stand on the sidelines for Maccabi’s return to Europe. Meanwhile, Qarabag won a league match last week when they defeated Galaba 3-0.
In addition to not having played in quite a while, Maccabi trained in two separate groups since the Israel National Team players returned to the club as Maor Kandil, Eyal Golasa, Eden Kartzev, Sheran Yeini and Eitan Tibi all started but were kept away from the players who had stayed in Israel. Daniel Tenenbaum, Enric Saborit, Dan Glazer, Itay Shechter, Yonatan Cohen, Ofir Davidzada and D’Or Peretz rounded out the other players in the starting lineup.
Maccabi took control of the game early and took the lead in the 10th minute when Dor Peretz sent a brilliant pass to Yonatan Cohen who pulled the Qarabag keeper Shakhrudin Magomedaliyev out of the goal and slotted the ball home for a 1-0 advantage.
Cohen almost scored his second seven minutes later but his attempt just missed the target while Qarabag defender Donald Guerrier and Maccabi’s Enric Saborit each picked up yellow cards. The Yellow & Blue then stole the ball in the visitors half as gave Eyal Golasa a magnificent pass but his low shot skipped off the grass and missed the far post. Guerrier surprised Tenenbaum with a long shot but the keeper made the stop as the half ended with Maccabi holding a 1-0 lead.
Maccabi made a double substitution to begin the second half as Ben Bitton and Eduardo Guerrero came on for Ofir Davidzada and Itay Shechter. Cohen swung a ball into the box but a Qarabag defender headed it away to safety as the Yellow & Blue replaced the goal scorer soon thereafter with Avi Rikan.
Tal Ben Chaim then entered the fray in place of Eyal Golasa while Luis Hernandez made his debut as the defender came on in place of Enric Saborit. Ben Chaim and Rikan almost doubled the advance but the latter’s header missed the target as Maccabi wrapped up the slim 1-0 victory to open their Europa League campaign.