Maccabi Tel Aviv boss Robbie Keane (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo

Robbie Keane's Maccabi Tel Aviv suffer remarkable collapse

Meanwhile, Rangers were knocked out of the Europa League by Benfica.

Updated at 22.34

RANGERS WERE knocked out of the Europa League after conceding the only goal against Benfica at Ibrox to lose 3-2 on aggregate, while it was a bad night for Robbie Keane’s Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Conference League.

Olympiakos overcame a 4-1 first-leg loss at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv to win 6-1 after extra time in Serbia and advance 7-5 on aggregate.

Stevan Jovetic and Youssef El Arabi scored for the Greek club in extra time.

It is a major setback for the former Irish international, who was appointed head coach of the Israeli side in June 2023.

Despite tonight’s bad defeat, the former Tottenham and Liverpool star has had better fortune domestically — after 25 games, his side are top of the table, five points ahead of nearest challengers Maccabi Haifa, having had to settle for third place the season before he took charge.

Meanwhile, Philippe Clement’s side were caught on the counter-attack by a simple forward ball in the 66th minute and Rafa Silva’s goal stood following a VAR check after initially being ruled out for offside.

Rangers had twice taken the lead in Lisbon last week but a penalty and an own goal cost them victory in the first leg and they could not take advantage of several chances in a tighter affair in Glasgow.

The Rangers fans in the Broomloan Stand produced a massive pre-match display that showed their sights were very much on the road to Dublin for the final on 22 May ahead of the last-16 second leg.

But there will be no repeat of the club’s run to the 2022 final and the cinch Premiership leaders must now focus on what could still be a highly successful domestic season with a treble a real possibility.

Benfica had some good early possession but Rangers had the first real chance when Tom Lawrence combined with Fabio Silva and fired a shot which Anatoliy Trubin let through his legs. The visiting goalkeeper was fortunate to see the ball trundle wide after hitting off his leg.

Lawrence soon had another chance when James Tavernier’s clever low corner gave him a free shot at goal 15 yards out but he failed to connect properly.

Jack Butland showed good hands in the slippery conditions to hold Alexander Bah’s long-range strike.

The vast majority of the 50,000 fans, including the Benfica supporters, paid tribute in the 25th minute to young Rangers fan Thomas McAllister, who died while in Lisbon for the first leg.

The first half continued in a more cagey fashion than that 2-2 draw in Portugal.

John Souttar was impressing in central defence for Rangers and his cross almost fell for Cyriel Dessers before Scott Wright slipped in the act of shooting from 22 yards and the ball sailed over.

Rangers survived a dangerous Benfica attack after John Lundstram fluffed a pass inside his own half.

The home side had a great chance on the counter-attack before the break following good work from Wright, but Lawrence picked the wrong option and played in a clearly offside Dessers.

Dessers did get a chance early in the second half after Wright burst past two opponents and played the striker in. The forward might have gone for goal first time, but he took a touch and his shot was heading for the far corner but deflected just wide.

The home side kept on the pressure but Benfica worked a good chance for Casper Tengstedt following a slick break. The substitute shot straight at Butland from 12 yards.

Rangers were again exposed from a counter-attack as Benfica took the lead for the first time in the tie.

Angel Di Maria headed on a ball over the top and Rafa Silva raced clear before slotting home. The offside flag went up but a lengthy VAR check decided the goalscorer was just inside his own half when the ball was played on, and the goal was given.

Rangers’ attempts to get back in the game were not helped by the surface water on the pitch slowing the ball down amid a day of incessant rain in Glasgow and Butland saved well from Bah as Benfica looked to finish off the tie.

Lundstram got an effort on target in the latter stages but Trubin saved comfortably and Rangers’ hopes ended when substitute Todd Cantwell stabbed wide in stoppage time.

london-uk-14th-mar-2024-vladimir-coufal-west-ham-applauds-the-fans-at-the-end-of-the-game-during-the-west-ham-vs-sc-freiburg-uefa-europa-league-last-16-2nd-leg-match-at-the-london-stadium-st Vladimír Coufal (West Ham) applauds the fans at the end of the game. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Elsewhere, David Moyes took the handbrake off West Ham and watched them race into the last eight of the Europa League with a 5-0 win over Freiburg.

Hammers boss Moyes uncharacteristically named an attacking line-up in a bid to repair the damage of the 1-0 first-leg defeat in Germany last week.

He was rewarded with a sparkling display as goals from Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen, Aaron Cresswell and two from Mohammed Kudus — including a sensational solo effort — secured a 5-1 aggregate win and a place in a European quarter-final for a third successive season.

As a consequence, the Hammers may have also done some of their Premier League rivals a favour, with the result pushing England ahead of Germany in Uefa’s coefficient rankings, which could mean an extra spot in Europe next season.

Despite some indifferent domestic form, West Ham — last season’s Europa Conference League winners — seem to come alive on these European nights.

Two years ago, at the same stage of the same competition, they memorably overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Spanish Europa League specialists Sevilla.

There were fears that that crackling atmosphere might be difficult to recreate, with many fans unable to make the match due to the unusual 5.45pm kick-off time.

But the London Stadium was still almost full and it erupted after just nine minutes as Freiburg saw their advantage wiped out.

Cresswell swung in a third-successive corner, Tomas Soucek stooped to flick the ball on and the unmarked Paqueta slid it in at the far post.

Just after the half-hour mark, West Ham had their second as Bowen celebrated his latest call-up to the England squad in style, shrugging off the attentions of Freiburg captain Christian Gunter before lashing home from 20 yards.

Freiburg still posed a threat, though, with Roland Sallai firing across goal and wide just to let West Ham know the tie was still very much in the balance at half-time.

That lasted until six minutes into the second half, when Bowen’s square ball across the box was deflected out to Cresswell, lurking on the edge of the area.

The left-back, who was the fall guy in Frankfurt two years ago when his red card in the semi-final against Eintracht cost West Ham dearly, took a touch before leathering the ball inside the far post.

The best was still to come, despite little sign of danger when Kudus picked the ball up deep inside his own half.

The former Ajax wideman sprinted around 70 yards, slicing through the heart of the Freiburg defence before casually rolling the ball into the net.

No wonder Kudus felt the need to borrow a photographer’s stool and sit down in front of the delirious home fans as his teammates celebrated around him.

The rest had clearly done Kudus good, as he promptly collected Bowen’s lay-off and dispatched a low drive from 20 yards to complete West Ham’s five-star display.

- Leverkusen still unbeaten -

leverkusens-head-coach-xabi-alonso-applauds-at-the-end-of-the-europa-league-round-of-sixteen-second-leg-soccer-match-between-bayer-leverkusen-and-qarabag-fk-at-the-bayarena-in-leverkusen-germany Leverkusen's head coach Xabi Alonso applauds at the end of the Europa League round of sixteen, second leg. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso has been heavily linked as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Anfield, and his side remain unbeaten in all competitions this season thanks to Patrik Schick’s stoppage-time double to beat Qarabag 3-2 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.

Schick also struck in added time during the first leg as Leverkusen came from 2-0 down and they needed to do the same at home.

Abdellah Zoubir and Juninho gave the Azeri champions a stunning lead.

But the visitors paid for having to play the final half hour down to 10 men as Elvin Cafarguliyev was sent off for hauling down Jeremie Frimpong.

Frimpong reduced the arrears before Schick turned home at the near post on 93 minutes.

And there was still time for the Czech forward to head in the winner seven minutes into added time.

Brighton left themselves too much to do as a 1-0 win over Roma could not overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit.

Danny Welbeck scored the only goal as the Seagulls at least ended their first-ever European campaign on a high.

Seven-time European champions AC Milan cruised into the last eight with a 3-1 win over 10-man Slavia Prague in the Czech capital.

Three quick goals from Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao killed off the tie before half-time.

Villarreal ended Jean-Louis Gasset’s unbeaten run as Marseille boss but a 3-1 victory in Spain was too little, too late for the Spaniards as they went out 5-3 on aggregate.

Goals from Etienne Capoue, Alexander Sorloth and Yerson Mosquera set up a grandstand finish, but Jonathan Clauss struck in stoppage time to ensure Marseille are in the draw for the last eight.

Atalanta beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on the night in Italy to go through 3-2 on aggregate.

ajaxs-jordan-henderson-is-dejected-at-the-end-of-the-match-during-the-uefa-europa-conference-league-round-of-16-second-leg-match-at-villa-park-birmingham-picture-date-thursday-march-14-2024 Ajax’s Jordan Henderson is dejected at the end of the match. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

A dominant second-half display gave Aston Villa a 4-0 home win against Ajax on Thursday, booking a spot for Unai Emery’s side in the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Five minutes before limping off injured, Ollie Watkins headed Villa into a first-half lead and Leon Bailey, Jhon Duran and Moussa Diaby then tied up the match as Villa ran rampant in the second half against 10-men Ajax.

After a goalless first leg in Amsterdam last week, the two teams started the match showing more physicality than inventiveness and both picked up yellow cards in the first 15 minutes.

Watkins then got himself into the book three minutes later with a late tackle on goalkeeper Diant Ramaj that left the England striker needing treatment on the sidelines.

Watkins showed no signs of lingering damage on 25 minutes when he rose unchallenged at the near post from Douglas Luiz’s corner and glanced a header into the far corner.

But he was soon forced from the pitch, succumbing to the hurt picked up inside the opening 20 minutes.

Villa looked the more likely of the two to score in the second half and Bailey duly doubled the hosts’ lead on the hour mark.

Luiz laid the ball off to Bailey and the Jamaican stood up Jorrel Hato in the box with a couple of step-overs before rolling the ball past the ‘keeper.

The match was over as a contest when midfielder Sivert Mannsverk picked up a second yellow 24 minutes from time, Ajax’s second red of the tie after Tristan Gooijer in the first leg.

Duran hammered home Villa’s third via the crossbar in the 75th minute and Diaby completed the rout six minutes later with a confident left-footed finish as Ajax’s defence crumbled.

- PAOK, Fiorentina advance -

PAOK put on a sensational performance in Greece to beat Dinamo Zagreb 5-1 on the night, overturning a two-goal deficit from the first leg.

Baba Rahman and Brandon Llamas struck either side of a Petar Sucic own-goal to give the hosts a 3-2 aggregate lead at half-time.

Arber Hoxha levelled matters for Zagreb four minutes into the second half but goals from Konstantinos Koulierakis and Andrija Zivkovic in the last 20 minutes gave PAOK an impressive 5-3 win over both legs.

Fiorentina edged out Maccabi Haifa 5-4 on aggregate, following a 1-1 second-leg draw in Tuscany that did not quite have the entertainment value of last week’s seven-goal thriller.

Union Saint-Gilloise earned a win their fans will remember at Fenerbahce but Mathias Rasmussen’s single goal on the night could not wipe out the Turkish side’s three-goal lead from the first leg.

Fellow Belgians Club Brugge did manage to come from behind, however, winning 3-0 at home against Molde to progress 4-2 on aggregate.

Lille drew 1-1 with Austrian visitors Sturm Graz but progressed with ease after their 3-0 win in the first leg.

Following a second goalless match, Viktoria Plzen overcame visitors Servette 3-1 on penalties to progress to the Europa Conference League quarter-finals.

The draw for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will take place on March 15 at Nyon, Switzerland.

Europa League results on Thursday:

Last 16, second leg

Villarreal (ESP) 3 (E. Capoue 32, Sorloth 54, Mosquera 85) Marseille (FRA) 1 (Clauss 90+4)

Marseille win 5-3 on aggregate

Rangers (SCO) 0 Benfica (POR) 1 (Rafa Silva 66)

Benfica win 3-2

West Ham United (ENG) 5 (Lucas Paquetá 9, Bowen 32, Cresswell 52, Kudus 77, 85) Freiburg (GER) 0

West Ham win 5-1

Slavia Prague (CZE) 1 (Jurasek 84) AC Milan (ITA) 3 (Pulisic 33, Loftus-Cheek 36, Rafael Leao 45+6)

Milan win 7-3

Liverpool (ENG) 6 (Nunez 7, Clark 8, Salah 10, Gakpo 14, 55, Szoboszlai 48) Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 (Birmancevic 42)

Liverpool win 11-2

Brighton and Hove Albion (ENG) 1 (Welbeck 37) Roma (ITA) 0

Roma win 4-1

Atalanta (ITA) 2 (Lookman 46, Scamacca 59) Sporting (POR) 1 (Pedro Gonçalves 33)

Atalanta win 3-2

Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 3 (Frimpong 72, Schick 90+3, 90+8) Qarabag (AZE) 2 (Zoubir 58, Juninho 67)

Leverkusen win 5-4

Uefa Europa Conference League results on Thursday (aet denotes after extra time):

Last 16, second legs

Aston Villa (ENG) 4 (Watkins 25, Bailey 60, Duran 75, Diaby 81) Ajax (NED) 0

Aston Villa win 4-0 on aggregate

Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR) 1 (Zehavy 57-pen) Olympiakos (GRE) 6 (Podence 10, Fortounis 36, Kaabi 45+3, 65, Jovetic 93, El-Arabi 103) aet

Olympiakos win 7-5 on aggregate after extra time

Club Brugge (BEL) 3 (Skov Olsen 45+1, 48, Skoras 70) Molde (NOR) 0

Club Brugge win 4-2 on aggregate

Lille (FRA) 1 (Santos 43) Sturm Graz (AUT) 1 (Biereth 45+1)

Lille win 4-1 on aggregate

Fiorentina (ITA) 1 (Barak 59) Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 1 (Khalaili 88)

Fiorentina win 5-4 on aggregate

Fenerbahce (TUR) 0 Union Saint-Gilloise (BEL) 1 (Rasmussen 68)

Fenerbahce win 3-1 on aggregate

Viktoria Plzen (CZE) 0 Servette (SUI) 0 aet

0-0 on aggregate; Viktoria Plzen win 3-1 on penalties

PAOK (GRE) 5 (Baba 27, Sucic 33-og, Llamas 42, Koulierakis 72, Zivkovic 88-pen) Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 1 (Hoxha 49)

PAOK win 5-3 on aggregate

Additional reporting by AFP and Paul Fennessy

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