Maccabi Haifa's Ruben Rayos 370.
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Despite holding a two-goal lead, Maccabi Haifa returned home from Greece with
nothing to show for its efforts against PAOK Thessaloniki, losing 3-2 in Europa
League action on Thursday night.
Goals by Dino Ndlovu (13) and Eyal
Golasa (21) put the Greens in a perfect position, but PAOK equalized before half
time, with Haifa goalkeeper Bojan Saranov also saving two penalties from
However, Saranov also played a part in all of PAOK’s
goals and the Greeks claimed all three points thanks to a 66th-minute winner by
Haifa, which remained on one point after three
matches, got the game off to a dream start, taking the lead through Ndlovu in
the 13th minute, with the South African striker stealing the ball from Kostas
Katsouranis before netting the opener with an accurate left-footed
The Greens doubled their advantage eight minutes later following a
move which began with an excellent save from Saranov and finished by a superb
curling strike from Golasa.
Haifa couldn’t quite believe it had opened a
two-goal cushion so early in the match in Greece, but it wouldn’t be long before
the visitors were brought back down to earth.
In the 35th minute, Saranov
was caught in no man’s land and Miguel Vitor’s header looped over the ‘keeper
into the back of the net.
PAOK equalized four minutes later, but not
before another enthralling sequence of events.
Stoch was brought down in
the box by Edin Cocalic, but had his subsequent penalty saved by Saranov, only
for Sotiris Ninis to score with a free header from the subsequent
As if there weren’t enough talking points in the first half, the
hosts were awarded another penalty in the 44th minute after Cocalic handled the
ball in the box. However, Sotch’s kick was saved by the Serbian stopper yet
But for all his heroics, Saranov should have done better in the
66th minute when Salpingidis scored the winner with a weak effort to ensure the
Greens left Greece empty handed.
Maccabi Tel Aviv faced Eintracht
Frankfurt in Europa League Group F action late Thursday night.