Recap: Europa Conference League Play-offs

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Several Americans saw their teams clear the final hurdle to reach the group stage of Europe’s third-tier competition, however it was not all roses as new Aberdeen arrival Christian Ramirez was unable to push his team over the line.

Maccabi Haifa 4 – 0 Neftçi Baku (agg. 7-3)

After a rough first leg which saw him give up a trio of goals, Maccabi Keeper Josh Cohen kept a clean sheet against Azerbaijani opponents Neftçi Baku as their dominant four-goal win pushed the team through to the group stage.

After the teams played to a wild 3-3 draw in last week’s first leg, Haifa showed they were clearly the more deserving of the two, and effectively wrapped up victory before the halftime whistle.

Sun Menachem put the team ahead in the 20th minute after a nice set-up from Omer Atzily, then Atzily struck his way onto the scoresheet when he connected on a corner for the 2-0 lead directly before the half.

Dolev Haziza then put the game out of reach in the 52nd minute when he buried a penalty after Atzily was toppled in the area. Finally, Mohammed Abu Fani sealed the emphatic win with the team’s fourth goal in the 69th minute, again on a setup from man-of-the-match Atzily.

With the victory, Haifa will begin their group-stage adventure in mid-September against Slavia Prague, Feynoord Rotterdam and Union Berlin. They will kick off their domestic season on Sunday with a trip to Hapoel Hadera

Aberdeen 1 – 3 Qarabağ (agg. 1-4)

Christian Ramirez saw his first run in Europe end in disappointment, as a 3-1 home loss to Azerbaijani sent Aberdeen tumbling out of the competition.

Ramirez started the game atop the Aberdeen attack as he has so far for every game in the qualifying rounds, but was forced to watch in agony when their guests jumped into the lead after only eight minutes.

Abdellah Zoubir did well to keep the ball from rolling over the end-line, and set up Tural Bayramov for a perfectly-placed strike across goal into the far corner.

Ten minutes later, Brazilian attacker Kady further dented the hosts’ hopes, with Zoubir finding his teammate wide open to the right of goal for an easy finish.

Aberdeen stayed within reach of a come-back, with Ramirez having a shout at goal off of a free kick in the 66th minute, however his shot flew wide.

However, the hosts effectively put the game out of reach six minutes later, this time with Kady returning the earlier favor from Zoubir, who sent him in with a long pass from the center circle for a powerful 20-yard strike.

Ramirez was pulled out after 81 minutes for midfielder Dean Campbell after taking a hard hit on the thigh. Aberdeen did manage a consolation goal in the second minute of stoppage time when Lewis Ferguson was successful from the spot, however it did little to make up for the disappointing overall performance.

Aberdeen can now focus on their ongoing domestic campaign, where they will face Ross County on Sunday in Scottish Premier League action.


After starting the first leg, injured Cameron Carter-Vickers was not included in Tottenham’s squad for their home 3-0 win over Portuguese opponents Paços de Ferreira, giving them an aggregate 3-1 victory in the series. The win does see them enter the group stage where they will face Rennes, Vitesse and Slovenian club Mura.

Ben Lederman is out for Raków Częstochowa while recovering from a knee injury, and missed their 3-0 loss at Gent. The aggregate 3-1 loss sees them exit the competition.

Bryan Reynolds was not included in the squad for Roma, as they blew past Turkish team Trabzonspor by a 3-0 score. Their 5-1 aggregate victory sees them through to the group stage, where they have Ukrainians Zorya Luhansk, Bulgarian team CSKA Sofia, and Norwegians Bødo/Glimt on the schedule.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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