Hibernians came from behind to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round at the Hibernians on Tuesday. A win which maintains alive hopes of a shock qualification against a much more renowned side.
Maccabi Tel Aviv were a better side during the first half and took a deserved lead as the Paolites adopted a more cautious approach. However after the break, Hibernians pushed more and cancelled the Israelis’ lead, notching the winner five minutes from time.
Hibernians coach Branko Nisevic had the full squad at his disposal apart from the injured Jean Paul Farrugia. New recruit Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro was named in the starting line-up with the other two new signings – Jorge Santos Silva and Matthew Towns starting on the bench with the Brazilian striker being included as a substitute.
The visitors almost took the lead on the 6th minute when Rui da Gracia lost possession, leaving five Maccabi players against three Hibs defenders but goalkeeper Jurgen Borg performed a great save on Gil Vermouth, turning his low shot from the right into a corner. Hibs replied with a Jorginho effort from the left which scraped past the post on the 21st minute.
However a minute later, Maccabi Tel Aviv took the lead when off a cross from the right, Ben Chaim headed the ball in the direction of Nosa Igiebor who slammed the ball past Jurgen Borg from close range.
Maccabi could have added another on the 26th when Igiebor entered the penalty area following a god run on the left flank and served Ben Basat with a perfect pass but his conclusion was deflected into a corner by Agius. Eytan Tibi then missed a good opportunity on the 35th when off a freekick from the right, the ball was deflected past the Hibs custodian but the Israeli striker hit the upright from close range.
The Paolites’ reaction consisted of a Jackson Lima freekick from the right which was deflected into a corner on 38 minutes.
Seven minutes in the second half, Igiebor sent Ben Basat through and the latter almost beat two Hibs defenders on the run only to end on the ground inside the area. However the referee waved play on and cautioned the Israeli striker for simulation.
Hibernians were now showing greater determination and finally managed to equalise on the 73rd when off a cross by Jackson Lima from the left, Jorge da Silva Pereira’s strong header gave goalkeeper Juan Pablo Colinas no chance.
Five minutes from time, Hibs took the lead when off an Andrew Cohen freekick, Jackson di Lima Siqueira headed home past the Israeli goalkeeper.
The second leg is scheduled for next Tuesday at the Itztadion Bloomfield in Tel Aviv.
HIBS Jurgen Borg, Rui Fernando Da Gracia Gomes, Jackson de Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo dos Santos Soares, Marcelo Mariano Dias, Andrew Cohen (91′ Johann Bezzina), Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Jorge da Silva Pereira (93′ Joseph Essien Mbong), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro (64′ Jorge Santos Silva).
MACCABI TEL AVIV Juan Pablo Colinas Ferreras, Gal Alberman, Tal Ben Chaim, Dor Miha, Eytan Tibi, Nikola Mitrovic (46′ Omri Amram Ben Harush), Tal Ben Haim, Gil Naftali Vermouth (59′ Barak Itzhaki), Carlos Garcia Badias, Nosakhare Emmanuel Igiebor, Eden Ben Basat.
Referee: Sergei Lapochkin (RUS)
Assistant referees: Nikolai Golubev, Aleksei Lebedev (RUS)
Fourth official: Igor Fedotov (RUS)
Yellow Cards: Kristensen, Lima, Ben Harush, Ben Basat, Dias, Miha