Wow, sports is awful right now. The Red Sox are the train-wreckiest train wreck I’ve seen in years on Yawkey Way, the US Men’s National Team just got sent home from the Gold Cup by
powerhouse rival perennial CONCACAF doormat Jamaica, and we’re still waiting for the Deflategate appeal process to arrive at some kind of conclusion. Instead of wallowing in that self-pity, gaze East for some inspiration from the headlines in Israeli sports.
After a disappointing 2:1 loss at Maltese champions Hibernians last week in the first leg of their qualifying fixture for the UEFA Champions League, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted the second leg on Tuesday night at home. With a raucous Bloomfield Stadium packed with blue-and-yellow clad fans, the Israeli champions scored in the 32nd minute via an own goal but conceded shortly into the second half, which put the pressure back on. Maccabi, though, was up to the task, exploding for four more goals in the second half, including two from Eran Zahavi, to seal a 5:1 victory and advance 6:3 on aggregate (watch the 3-minute highlights below). Maccabi advances to the next round of qualifying and will meet Czech champions FC Victoria Plzen in the first leg of their fixture next Tuesday in Tel Aviv, with the return leg in Plzen on August 5. If Maccabi wins, they will advance to the final playoff for Champions League qualification. If they lose, though, all is not lost, as they will get dumped into the Europa League qualification playoff round.
From Boston, With Love
Hey basketball fans, remember Vitor Faverani? The 6’11”, 260-pound Brazilian big man who filled the lane in 2013-14 for the Celtics? Don’t fret if you forgot- after all, he only played in 37 games and averaged 4.4 points per game, in addition to shuttling back and forth between the Celtics and the Maine Red Claws of the D-League. Following knee surgery in the spring of 2014, he didn’t step on the court again, and was waived by the C’s after the Rajon Rondo (who?) trade last December. Well, one organization’s trash is another one’s treasure, and Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv scooped him up and signed him on July 10 and will be looking to have him play important minutes at the center position next season.
After last week’s debacle in Belgium, when Beitar Jerusalem’s La Familia fans were involved in some awful acts of hooliganism and violence (read here, here, and here) as their team saw two players red-carded and lost 5:1, today’s home match against Charleroi in Europa League qualifying wasn’t much better as the Belgians advanced 9:2 on aggregate after a 4:1 victory at Teddy Stadium. The bad news continued as HaPoel Beer Sheva went to Switzerland seeking some away goals against Thun, and came up on the short end of a 2:1 result and a 3:2 aggregate loss, failing to advance to the third round of qualifying. HaPoel Kiryat Shmonah is poised to kick off their Europa League campaign in round three, traveling to the Czech Republic on July 30 to play Liberec, who they will host on August 6 at the gorgeous Netanya Municipal Stadium. Hopefully they can fly the flag of Israeli football into the playoff round for the group stages later in August.