Jerusalem (Israel), August 27: Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa reached the group stage of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening after beating Azerbaijani champions Neftchi Baku 4-0 at home.
The second-leg match of the third qualifying round was played in front of 18,500 fans at Sammy Ofer Stadium in the northern city of Haifa, a week after a 3-3 draw in the first-leg match in Baku.
Maccabi Haifa opened strongly, and after a big miss by English-Australian defender Ryan Strain in the 15th minute, the first goal was scored five minutes later by defender Sun Menachem through a header after an accurate free kick by Omer Atzili.
Atzili made it 2-0 with an impressive volley two minutes into the additional time of the first half.
The home team continued at a high pace in the second half, going up to 3-0 in the 52nd minute from a penalty by Dolev Haziza, after Atzili was fouled by Hugo Basto at the box.
The fourth goal was scored by Mohammad Abu Fani, with an impressive kick from 20 meters in the 69th minute.
The group stage draw, to be held in Istanbul on Friday, will include 32 teams that will be divided into eight groups.