KERKRADE, Netherlands - Second place in the Israeli Premier League against the bottom club in the Dutch first division and the outcome was clear for all to see.
Roda JC Kerkrade was never in any trouble against Maccabi Tel Aviv as it notched an easy 4-1 victory against a club which considered this to be an easy draw with the chance of advancing to the latter stages of the UEFA Cup.
Roda caused one of the blackest days for Israeli soccer four seasons ago when it thrashed Hapoel Be'er Sheva 10-0 at home and added to that with a 4-1 victory in the Negev in the return leg of the now defunct Cup Winners Cup. Maccabi is not Be'er Sheva. It is a much stronger side, but last night there seemed to be only one team on the field - Roda. The Dutch side, currently undergoing one of its most difficult times domestically exploded in anger and took out its rage on Maccabi. Not that this was an unsporting match, but it could have been so much more of a contest had the Israelis played to their potential. On a better day Maccabi could have got a result which would have left it with a chance of winning the tie in the return leg undoubtedly missed the chance to advance to the third round, but following Avi Nimni's missed penalty which would have made the score 4-2, there no appears to be no hope for the Tel Aviv side and the clash at Bloomfield on November 1 will be only a formality.
Roda is not a great side and on a good day Maccabi could have got a decent result in the away leg, but yesterday was not one of Maccabi's good days as all the players who took the field played badly.
Maccabi learned the lesson that in European competition the most important thing is getting a result, but the defensive lineup which coach Nir Levin charged with keeping the wolf from the door failed miserably. Levin failed to react to the situation and he changed tactics by bringing on Eli Biton after they were 2-0 down and starting throwing men forward in desperation only after they were 3-0 in arrears. The change brought about Maccabi's goal and the hopes of being able to turn the result around were rekindled, except that within minutes Roda reestablished the three-goal advantage which will surely take it to the third round.
Add to that Avi Nimni's missed penalty which could have made the score 4-2 and the evening turned into a miserable night for the visitors.
Maccabi fielded a depleted lineup, without Gadi Brumer and Oren Zeituni in defense and without Baruch Dago up front and Nimni was still suffering the effects of flu. All this contributed to a slow and unimaginative game which presented with Roda few problems.
Roda took the lead early on when Tom Soetaers headed them ahead from a Frederik Berglund cross after only four minutes. Soetaers made it 2-0 after 38 minutes when the Maccabi 'keeper Liran Strauber fumbled his 20-meter shot.
Berglund made it 3-0 after 54 minutes and Fatih Sonkaya added a fourth eight minutes from time.
Ferenc Horvath scored for Maccabi after 78 minutes but Nimni wasted the chance to add a second for the visitors when he missed an 85th minute penalty.
He may have been put off after a long discussion with Russian referee Yuri Baskakov over whether the ball was exactly on the penalty spot or not.
Roda coach George Leekens said there was no doubt his team would travel to Israel for the second leg in two weeks time. "We are going to Israel because we want to qualify for the next round," he said.
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