Champions league Maccabi Haifa beat Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 on Tuesday to reach the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2002.
More than 33,000 fans at the Ramat Gan stadium saw the Greens complete a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory over
the Austrian champions to earn the club a second-ever appearance in football’s richest club competition.
The victory was a personal triumph for Haifa manager Elisha Levy, who as in the first leg last week, started the game with Eyal Golosa, 17, and Mohammed Ghadir, 18, two unproven teenagers. The youngsters rewarded Levy by scoring second-half goals.
By then the game was well beyond Salzburg’s grasp. The Austrians were poor in defence and never threatened Nir Davidovich’s goal.
After 31 minutes, the excellent Yaniv Katan put Vladimer Dvalishvili through, and though the big Georgian’s first effort was smothered by two Salzburg defenders, he latched on to the loose ball to shoot past Edward Gustafsson.
Golosa doubled the lead just before the hour with a speculative shot that took a deflection and man-of-the-match Ghadir grabbed a last-minute gift goal following a mix-up between Gustafsson and Barry Opdam.
Levy said, “We won this game in the best possible fashion with fast, attractive football. It was a great night with a marvellous atmosphere.”
With Uefa boosting Champions League payouts by 33 per cent following new sponsorship and TV deals, Maccabi will receive $10.1 million for appearing in the group stage and a $1.14 million bonus for each win.
These figures do not include gate receipts for the matches, which will be played at Ramat Gan, or the $3 million Maccabi have already earned for reaching the playoff round.
The Israeli champions now hope to sign at least three players before the transfer window closes next week.
Hapoel Tel Aviv look set to reach the group stage of the inaugural Europa League after a 2-1 away victory over Teplice in the Czech Republic.