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Haifa reach Europa League group stages

    Two Israeli clubs will be involved in the group stages of this season's Europa League competition after Maccabi Haifa joined Maccabi Tel Aviv following a 3-1 aggregate win over Astra.

    Leading 2-0 from the home leg, Haifa drew 1-1 with the Romanians on Thursday night. Valerica Gaman gave Astra hope with a 27th strike, but the two-goal lead was restored seven minutes later when Rayo converted a free-kick - scoring the all-important away goal to end Astra's hopes.

    Haifa boss Arik Benado said: "We accomplished our goal of reaching the group stage and I’m proud of my players who didn’t panic despite going a goal down."

    The draw for the group stage takes place in Monaco on today, with Haifa placed in the third seeding pot and Tel Aviv in the fourth pot.

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