The Mali international played a crucial role helping the Austrians silence the resilient hosts in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter
Red Bull Salzburg defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1 to secure a first-leg advantage in the 2020-21 Champions League play-off round.
Having defeated Dynamo Brest 1-0 in the third qualifying round, the Yellow Ones came into Tuesday’s game with the ambition of causing an upset against the Austrians.
However, they now have their hopes of reaching the group stage hanging in the balance as they failed to make home advantage count.
With barely 83 seconds into the game, Salzburg almost took the lead as Dominik Szoboszlai’s freekick was saved by goalkeeper Daniel Tenenbaum.
Despite dominating ball possession early, the hosts took the lead courtesy of Dan Biton who received a pass from Eylon Almog before beating two of his markers to lob the ball past Cican Stankovic.
That effort woke Jesse Marsch’s men from their slumber as they chased the equaliser. Szoboszlai was in line to achieve that but after getting a pass from Masaya Okugawa in the 15th minute, he was challenged by a waiting Maccabi defender.
The Hungarian also served Max Wober an inviting corner-kick, but it was diverted from goal by Mergim Berisha.
In the second-half, the Austrian champions come out charged and that paid off almost immediately as Zambia’s Patson Daka was fouled by Matan Baltaxa in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s goal area while Szoboszlai converted the resulting penalty.
Eight minutes later, Salzburg sealed the win courtesy of Okugawa who controlled Sekou Koita’s pass before firing past Tenenbaum for his first goal in Europe.
The Israelis did not give up in the push for an equaliser, but the visitors put up a solid defensive network to halt their attacking forays.
While Daka and his compatriot Enock Mwepu were in action from start to finish, Koita replaced Berisha in the 46th minute. Malian midfielder Mohamed Camara came in for Szoboszlai with four minutes left to play, while Germany youth international of Nigerian descent Karim Adeyemi was an unused substitute.
The return leg holds on September 29 at the Red Bull Arena, Wals-Siezenheim with the winners over two legs securing a berth in the group phase of the competition.