Israeli teams impress in European competitions


Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem remain on course to reach the Europa League playoffs following encouraging results in the latest round of qualifiers on Thursday night.

An excellent solo effort from Tal Ben Haim inside the first 10 minutes set them up for a 3-1 victory over Pandurii.

The Israeli international beat his marker before placing a clever lob into the net.

The visitors did not look out of their depth and it needed a brilliant save from Pedrag Rajkovic to keep Maccabi ahead. But he had no chance with a 30th-minute equaliser via Ovidiu Hera.

Two second-half strikes settled the contest in Maccabi's favour. Nosa Igiebor restored the advantage with a fine header from a Haris Medunjanin free-kick two minutes into the half.

And Dor Micha completed the scoring in Romania, to set up what should be a comfortable second leg in Netanya next week.

Beitar were indebted to a 25th-minute strike from Idan Vered in their 1-1 draw against Jelgava.

The Latvians levelled but the Israelis came away feeling they were worthy of victory had Etey Scheter not spurned two good chances.

Beitar will look to finish the job at the Teddy Stadium next week.

Israel champions Hapoel Tel Aviv are in a good position to progress in the Champions League following a goalless draw in the away leg against Olympiacos.

Hapoel started the third qualifying round first leg as underdogs, but they held their own with a dogged defensive performance against the six-time Greek champions.

The second leg takes place at the Turner Stadium on Wednesday.

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