Maccabi Haifa FC recorded a resounding 5-0 victory against nine-men FC Steaua Bucureşti to strengthen their grip on second place in Group J.
The hosts were well on course by half-time after racing into a 3-0 lead courtesy of Weaam Amasha's double and captain Yaniv Katan's penalty. Taleb Twatha added another with 18 minutes remaining, before Idan Vered completed the scoring. Steaua, who lost Eric Bicfalvi and Valentin Iliev to red cards, have now gone ten UEFA away games without success and sit third in the section, four points behind the Israeli champions.
The game started at a slow tempo with both teams sizing each other up, before Amasha broke the shackles in the tenth minute, striding in on goal and coolly stroking the ball beyond Răzvan Stanca. Elisha Levi's side then doubled their lead ten minutes later, Katan teeing up Amasha to aim a stunning overhead kick into the top corner. The away side almost halved the deficit moments later when Leandro Tatu's header struck a post, before Florin Costea sent a curling effort narrowly wide.
The hosts struck again, though, when Amasha evaded the attentions of the Steaua defence once more and was brought down by Bicfalvi, who was dismissed for his foul. Katan kept his composure with the ensuing spot kick as he sent Stanca the wrong way.
The home side utilised their numerical advantage to stay in charge after the break, and Steaua were reduced to nine men following Iliev's last-man challenge on the ever-dangerous Amasha. Another penalty resulted, though this time Katan hit the bar. Nevertheless, Haifa finished the game in style, Twatha's sweetly struck shot finding the bottom corner before he turned provider for Vered to volley in the fifth.
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