Goals by Vaclav Kadlec and Alexander Meier handed Eintracht Frankfurt a 2-0 win over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv in their first Europa League encounter. Tal Ben Haim was sent off after 34 minutes
Maccabi Tel Aviv's third Europa group stage match against Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt at the local Commerzbank Arena resulted in a 2-0 defeat for Maccabi. The Germans scored early on in the match and to make matters worse, with just 34 minutes on the match clock, Maccabi were forced to play the remaining 66 minutes with just ten men after striker Tal Ben Haim was sent off for a second bookable offence. Eight minutes after the restart the hosts doubled their advantage, which they maintained till the end of the match.
The Germans dominated the match from the very start and with only four minutes gone Maccabi keeper Juan Pablo was called into action to parry a dangerous header by Frankfurt midfielder Alexander Meier. One minute later Tal Ben Haim found room at the other end of the pitch but his powerful strike was pushed aside for a corner by the Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp. Two minutes after that Juan Pablo once again displayed his craft by blocking a dangerous strike by Swiss international midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta. With twelve minutes gone the Maccabi keeper repeated the feat when he got a glove to a Frankfurt effort, but after a bounce off the upright, Frankfurt striker Vaclav Kadlec beat Maccabi defender Sheran Yeini to the ball and dinked it into the net. And if this early deficit was not enough to unsettle Maccabi nerves, with eleven minutes still to go to half time Tal Ben Haim saw red for a second bookable offence, handling the ball for a second time in the space of five minutes. With 66 minutes left to play Maccabi now faced not only a one goal deficit but a one man deficit as well. At the half both deficits remained unchanged.
At the start of the second half Eintracht head coach Armin Veh widened his attacking options by bringing on midfielder Stefan Aigner for defender Marco Russ, but it was Barnetta and Kadlec that continued to stand out on the pitch. And it was Barnetta's corner eight minutes after the restart that resulted in Frankfurt's second goal, courtesy of Alexander Meier, who headed in to the far post. Maccabi head coach Paulo Sousa then made some substitutions of his own, sending on strikers Gael Margulies and Munas Dabbur and midfielder Omri Altman, but to no avail. Maccabi Tel Aviv suffered their first loss in the Europa League group stage and after their first round of three group F matches are left with four points. To complicate matters, at the end of the match the news arrived that French contenders Bordeaux had beaten Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia 2-1, considerably tightening the race for the second spot in the group. Maccabi now find Bordeaux breathing down their necks with three points and APOEL still at some distance with one. By contrast, Eintracht Frankfurt continue to lead the group with a perfect nine points from three matches, likely to be enough to see them through to the next stage of the competition. In two weeks' time Maccabi Tel Aviv will face them once again, this time on Maccabi home soil at Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa.