FC Levadia Tallinn 0-2 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Maccabi Tel-Aviv continued the rich vein of form enjoyed by Israeli clubs in Europe this season when they earned a 2-0 away victory over FC Levadia Tallinn in their UEFA Cup qualifying round first-leg encounter.
Levadia, who are currently flirting with relegation in the Estonian Meistriliiga, were no match for the Israeli Cup winners, though they made Maccabi fight hard for the win. Having watched fellow countrymen Maccabi Haifa beat Grazer AK in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League last night, the capital club edged a step nearer to the first round with a consummate performance at the Kadriorg stadium.
Maccabi's first attack of the match, on four minutes, brought the opening goal, as Andrejs Prohorenkovs finished off a flowing move. Maccabi captain Tal Banin initiated the goal with a deft pass to the right flank, where Eli Biton flicked the ball into the danger area and Prohorenkovs turned the ball past a helpless Janno Hermanson.
Strool adds a second
The visitors added a second midway through the first half, when Avi Strool got the final touch following some neat approach play involving Biton and Reuven Oved.
Levadia had two chances before the break, but Maccabi goalkeeper Liran Strauber saved well from Ruslan Jagudin in the 28th minute, before Pavel Apalinski fired his left-footed free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.
Maccabi's victory was tainted shortly before the interval when the injured Banin was carried off on a stretcher. Neither side created a clear-cut chance in a low-key second period, despite Levadia's best efforts, and it is Israeli side who find themselves firmly in the driving seat ahead of the return leg in two weeks' time.