Champions League dream over for Maccabi


Maccabi Tel Aviv's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League group stage are over after they were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by Basel.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Switzerland, the Bloomfield Stadium was rocked into silence on Tuesday night as Basel raced into a 3-0 lead on Tuesday night.

The tie was as good as over as Fabian Schär, Mohamed Salah and Marcelo Díaz beat Juan Pablo in the Maccabi goal inside the opening 32 minutes.

Maccabi mounted a stirring comeback, with Schär bundling the ball into his own net after Basel keeper Yann Sommer had spilled a Barak Itzhaki strike two minutes later.

Eran Zahavi made it 3-2 on the night eight minutes before half time and when Maharan Radi levelled the scores 10 minutes into the second half, Basel were rocking.

But Maccabi were unable to add further goals and it was Basel who booked their play in the playoff round.

Maccabi defender Sheran Yeini believes his team left themselves too much to do after a sloppy start. "We're not happy because we made a few mistakes to let Basel into the game," he said. "After we conceded the goals we started to control the match – we pushed them back and started to score ourselves.

"The fans were amazing and gave us a lot of energy. The stadium shook when we scored the third goal, but although we felt good, we could not find the net again."

Maccabi defender Carlos García commented: "It's not that we were that bad in the opening stages – they scored three goals from three chances. It was a good match, and I don't think Basel are much better than us. I'm disappointed, but proud of our fans. Now everybody knows how good they are. Our Champions League run is over but we have a very long season ahead."

Basel keeper Yann Sommer said: "Maccabi have a good team going forwards and strong players who play good football. We started very well and quickly got a very nice scoreline. We had three chances and scored three goals, it was perfect.

Then we lost concentration and gave Maccabi too much space. I know these types of games, as we've had difficult away matches before. I knew if they scored a fourth goal it would be a very, very hard evening for us.

"I'm happy they didn't and we were lucky in the end. I'm just happy we're through.

"I was amazed by the Maccabi fans, too – at 3-0 down they didn't stop supporting the team. They gave them confidence and it was nice to see and to play here.

Maccabi: Pablo, Alberman, Zahavi (sub: Margolis 63), Radi, Itzhaki, Ben Haim (sub: Einbinder 74), Ziv (sub: Mika 35), Tibi, Yeini (capt), Prica, Carlos Garcia

Goals: Schar 34 (og), Zahavi 37, Radi 55

Booked: Prica 13, Itzhaki 68, Alberman 90, Carlos Garcia 5

Basel: Sommer, Degen (sub: Voser 61), Ajeti, Streller (capt) (sub: Sauro 55), Stocker, Schar, Safari, Frei, Diaz, Salah (sub: Elneny 75), Xhaka

Goals: Schar 5 (pen), Salah 21, Diaz 32

Booked: Stocker 40, Xhaka 42, Salah 75

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