Maccabi arrived in Finland for the Conference League group stage match against HJK at Helsinki’s Bolt Arena aiming to continue the form which saw them record four point from the opening two matches.
Maccabi’s coach Patrick van Leeuwen made two changes to the side that suffered a 4-2 defeat against Maccabi Netanya in the league. Shahar Piven stepped into the starting line-up to partner Luis Hernandez as the two central defenders in front of Daniel Peretz. Andre Geraldes and Enric Saborit completed the back-four on the right and left respectively. Sheran Yeini pushed into a defensive midfield role alongside Dan Glazer while Eyal Golasa was at the top of the triangle of Van Leeuwen’s midfield trio. Gabi Kanichowsky and Brandley Kuwas were named as the two wingers with Croatian striker Stipe Perica lead the line upfront.
Seven minutes from the start Maccabi reached the first chance as a Brandley Kuwas cross from the right was flicked by Stipe Perica into the path of Sheran Yeini. The veteran captain who ghosted into the area behind HJK’s defence, found himself in a glorious position to score but opted to cross before the danger was cleared. Perica had the first shot on goal after being teed-up by Kuwas on the edge of the area, but the Croat’s shot was easily collected by HJK’s keeper Hugo Keto.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 27th minute as Dan Glazer and Golasa won the ball on the edge of the HJK are before Gabi Kanichowsky latched on the lose ball and sent a powerful low drive that found Keto’s bottom corner. The hosts seemed to threaten only from set pieces but with no further goals before the halftime whistle was sounded by the referee, both teams left the field to try and catch their breaths and warm up in the dressing rooms.
Two minutes after the restart Maccabi were awarded a penalty after Perica was brought down inside the area. The tall Croatian striker picked himself up and fired the penalty beyond the reach of Keto to double Maccabi’s lead. Maccabi came close to increase their lead even further on 54 as Golasa found himself inside the HJK area, but his shot was blocked by a defender. Four minutes later Perica carved himself an opening as he skipped past three HJK defenders only to blast his shot over the crossbar.
In the 59th minute an Andre Geraldes cross from the right sailed across the penalty box and reached Kanichowsky who sent a low drive that beat Keto to make it 3-0. Van Leeuwen made his first substitution in the 63rd minute as Eden Shamir replaced Golasa in midfield. HJK came close in the 67th minute as a dangerous cross saw Luis Hernandez attempt to clear the ball but instead was deflected off his boot onto the crossbar.
Daniel Peretz was drawn into action as he made his first serious save to keep out the free kick of Lucas Lingman on 75. Two minutes later, Van Leeuwen made a double change as Eduardo Guerrero and Osama Khalaila replaced both Perica and Kuwas.
In the 84th minute Khalaila released Guerrero who spotted Keto off his line but the Panamanian forward missed the target with his attempt of a chip. Two minutes later Guerrero was fouled inside the area and Maccabi were awarded penalty allowing Enric Saborit to make it 4-0 with a successful spot kick.
Sheran Yeini and Gabi Kanichowsky bowed out to a standing ovation by the traveling Maccabi fans as they were replaced by Matan Hozez and Ido Shahar on 87. Inside injury time Shamir headed in a Gerlades cross to make it 5-0 and round up a successful night overall.