Maccabi Tel Aviv and FC Basel fought out a goalless draw at Bloomfield Stadium, moving the deciding encounter to Switzerland. Carlos Garcia received another booking and will miss the return leg
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Swiss champions FC Basel met tonight at a packed out and tumultuous Bloomfield Stadium in the first leg of the knockout round of 32 of the Europa League. The first half proved to be balanced affair that left little room for any promising opportunities. In the sixth minute, Maccabi midfielder Mahran Radi found Barak Itzhaki in space with a long ball but the experienced striker shot straight into the hands of Basel keeper Yann Sommer. Just before the half hour mark MTA defender Carlos Garcia was shown yellow for an illegal challenge on Basel's Ivorian striker Giovanni Sio and will subsequently miss the return leg in Switzerland next week. A minute later the Swiss champions were threatening the Maccabi goal, but Basel defender Taulant Xhaka's header went straight at keeper Juan Pablo. The rest of the half finished with neither side creating any significant chances.
The stand-off continued after the restart, with Basel's substitute midfielder Fabian Frei having the best of his side's chances with a free kick in the 68th minute, but Juan Pablo's net remained unpenetrated. This signalled a revival of the home side's endeavours and four minutes later Radi and Itzhaki once again teamed up to threaten the Basel goal but Sommer was there to palm away the ball for a corner. Maccabi continued to press but in the closing moment of the match it was another Basel substitute, midfielder Valentin Stocker, who came closest with a shot from inside the area, but once again straight at Juan Pablo.
The deciding leg will now be played at FC Basel's home ground, St. Jakob-Park, next Thursday the 27th of February.