Maccabi Tel Aviv have dumped Basel out of the Champions League on away goals to book their first group-stage participation in the competition for 11 years following a 1-1 draw on the night.
With the aggregate score at 2-2 following last week’s stalemate in Switzerland, Maccabi’s two away goals gave them the favourites tag ahead of tonight’s conclusion in Israel.
However, Nosa Igiebor conceded a foul just outside the area on 14 minutes, and Luca Zuffi made him pay by curling home the set piece to fire Basel 3-2 ahead overall.
The hosts responded well and the second leg looked like following the same see-saw pattern as its predecessor when Eran Zahavi – who scored both last week – replicated his heroics on 24 minutes to tip the tie in Maccabi’s favour.
On 42 minutes, Zuffi almost cancelled out Maccabi’s away-goal advantage completely, but his close-range piledriver sailed just over the bar.
With a first group-stage participation since the 2004-05 season up for grabs, Maccabi could not afford to rest on their laurels as they dilligently went about their work in the second half.
However, Taulant Xhaka came within a whisker of spoiling the party when his volley sailed just wide of the post shortly after the hour mark.
It proved the last real chance that Basel fashioned, with Maccabi holding on as a return to the big time now beckons.