Against a really battling Israeli side, our boys long had a luckless evening of trying to pick gaps through a packed defence. Jesse's proteges had a sensational start to the second half to thank for sealing a great 2-1 win to take back to Austria.
There were just 83 seconds on the clock when Dominik Szoboszlai sent one of his notorious free-kicks swirling on goal, only for Maccabi keeper Tenenbaum to keep it out of the top corner to prevent what would have been a dream start to our UEFA Champions League play-off first leg. Instead the Israelis were able to celebrate: Almog chipped the ball forward, Biton took it down past the defenders and lobbed Cican Stankovic (9'). Our side had made a good start despite the early blow, were dominating possession and looked to hit an equaliser straight away. Masaya Okugawa sent the ball to the far post, and Szoboszlai drilled an effort past the goalkeeper but not past a defender who cleared from the line!
The Hungarian was also able to threaten from a corner that he sent in for Max Wöber, who headed on for Mergim Berisha to nod over from short-range. Maccabi also caused some danger from a corner, as the ball broke back to Barsky, who was lingering artfully outside the box, but he sent his effort into the side netting.
The second half started in more open fashion, with Almog testing Stankovic before Baltaxa brought Patson Daka down in the box – penalty! Szoboszlai took hold of the ball and smashed it in via the inside of the post (49')! We had our all-important away goal! Our boys could sense the chance to turn the game on its head. Szobo sent the ball through for substitute Sekou Koita to chase, who turned it to Okugawa, who was in space in the middle – and the Japanese attacker tucked it in (57'). That was his first ever goal in a European competition!
Our boys were in gear now. First Rasmus Kristensen had a go from distance, before captain Andi Ulmer sent one well wide. Tel-Aviv were able to threaten Stankovic mostly via their goalscorer. Biton forced our keeper into making a save with a powerful free-kick, but Cican was alert and ready to take on anything coming his direction tonight! Our Red Bulls continued to dominate though - with a lovely move ending up with Daka, whose promising effort aimed inside the far post was stopped by Tenenbaum.
The Israelis were in no mood to give up. Shechter was picked out impressively in space, but he snapped at the ball in a great position to make it easy for Stankovic. Biton tried with all his might to beat the Austrian international goalkeeper a second time, with Cican pulling off a stunning save! The late Maccabi push ultimately didn't bring them anything. Although Noah Okafor hitting the crossbar in stoppage time denied us an even better night, a fabulous high-tempo start to the second half has put our men in a good position going into the second leg in eight days.
Did you miss some of it? No problem! You can watch the match in full again from tomorrow morning on our new video player.
It was a tough battle! We knew in advance that it definitely wouldn't be easy. Managing to get a win here after going behind is extremely important for us. It was a good performance, in the heat against these opponents who were unbeaten in the league last season. It is a big advantage, but it is only half-time in the tie. We go into the second leg ahead, but we still have more to do. It isn't over yet!
Koita for Berisha (46'), Bernede for Camara (64'), Onguene for Szoboszlai (64'), Adeyemi for Daka (73'), Ashimeru for Okugawa (77')
Vallci (24' foul)
Ramalho (6' denying goalscoring opportunity)
Not available for action
Junuzovic (thigh), Solet (muscle problems)