Mikkel Diskerud and Omonoia saw their hopes of reaching the Europa Conference League knockout round take a fatal hit against Basel while Josh Cohen and Haifa stayed within reach despite a narrow loss at Prague.
Omonoia Nikosia 1 – 1 FC Basel
Cypriot champions Omonoia Nikosia stayed winless in Group H, with Mikkel Diskerud unable to help them push past Basel in his second-half substitute appearance.
The American international played the final 23 minutes of the game for the hosts, entering late for midfielder Charalambos Charalambous, who had picked up a yellow card several minutes earlier.
Looking to maintain hope of advancing to the knockout round heading into the last two group games, the hosts were first on the board two minutes past the quarter-hour. Jordi Gomez sent Andronikos Kakoullis in through the Basel defense, where he was able to slip in behind Eray Cömert slot his shot past keeper Heinz Lindner for the lead.
After the goal, Omonoia pulled back and appeared to be playing for the 1-0 win, which was a successful strategy for the remainder of the first half, but broke down shortly into the second.
A pair of penalty shouts by the visitors were ignored by referee Vitaly Meschkov, however they ended up being unnecessary after Fabian Frey played Liam Millar into open space in the 57th minute, with the Canadian striking inside the far post for the equalizer.
Basel pushed hard for the win over the last half-hour, aiming to keep their spot atop Group H, however the game ended with each team taking a share of the spoils
While not mathematically eliminated from the knockout round, Omonoia trail second-place Basel by six points and a -9 accumulated goal differential, meaning it will take a miracle in their final two games to go through. Their next group game will be against Azerbaijani team Qarabağ FK on November 25.
Slavia Prague 1 – 0 Maccabi Haifa
Josh Cohen and Haifa put in another strong defensive performance on their trip to Slavia Prague on Thursday, however were unable to overcome their Czech opponents in a narrow loss.
Slavia dominated the run of play, with 56% possession and a total of 16 shots to Haifa’s four, along the way forcing Cohen to make a trio of saves. For his part, the American picked up his second yellow card of the group stage early in the second half, putting him one away from a one-game suspension.
Cohen did put himself into a tough position in the eighth minute, failing to properly control a ball in his area and getting into a tangle with Slavia attacker Jan Kuchta to recover, however luckily for the keeper the referee saw no justification to whistle for a penalty.
Cohen deflected a shot from Daniel Samek in the 34th minute that was cleared out of danger by the defense, however was not so lucky four minutes into the second half when his initial block of a shot by Alexander Bah was promptly put away by Kuchta for the 1-0 lead.
Bah came close to making it 2-0 in the 70th minute when his rocked bounced off the crossbar. A hectic final phase saw both teams devolve into a chaos and unforced mistakes, with Norwegian referee Kai Erik Steen feeling the need to issue a total of five yellow cards in the final two minutes of regulation and added time to keep matters under control.
In the end, the hosts held on for the victory, claiming all three points and the coveted second-place in the group standings.
Haifa can still qualify for the knockout round as they only trail Slavia by two points, however they will have a tough road ahead with Union Berlin and Feyenoord Rotterdam in their final two group games.
Bryan Reynolds was an unused substitute for Roma as they were unable to defeat Norwegians Bodø/Glimt in a 2-2 draw in the Stadio Olimpico. The Italians are still in strong position to qualify for the knockout round, with their next group game on November 25 at home against Ukrainians FC Zorya Luhansk.