MACCABI HAIFA’S Eyal Golasa311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa will have the edge entering next week’s Champions League playoffs
second leg at KRC Genk after recording a 2-1 victory at National Stadium in
Ramat Gan on Wednesday night.
Haifa dominated the first half and could
have well led by more than the two goals scored by Wiyam Amashe (8) and Vladimir
However, Genk, which looked helpless in the first half,
was the better team after the break, and Elyaniv Barda’s goal in the 61st minute
ensured the tie remained wide open ahead of next Tuesday’s return leg in Belgium
from which only one team will advance to the Champions League group
Genk had the better of the early exchanges but it wasn’t long
before Haifa seized control.
The Greens pressured Genk by not allowing
the Belgians to develop a passing game and their dominance in possession soon
translated into a goal.
Eyal Meshumar’s accurate long ball from the right
flank was expertly brought down by Amashe and his cool finish in front of goal
gave Haifa the opener after eight minutes.
Haifa continued to push
forward after getting off to an ideal start and for large periods of the first
half was completely outplaying Genk.
Elisha Levy’s team was unlucky not
to double its lead after 17 minutes, with Dvalishvili’s free kick from the edge
of the area taking a deflection and smashing off the crossbar.
Israeli striker Barda saw very little of the ball, but he should have equalized
in the 21st minute when his weak effort from five meters out was cleared by the
Seven minutes later, the hosts scored the second goal they
After a swift team move, Eyal Golasa crossed the ball to
perfection from the right and Dvalishvili slid in to score his fourth goal in
five Champions League qualifiers.
Haifa could have well increased its
lead by the break, with Amashe squandering a golden opportunity from two meters
out in the 30th minute and Idan Vered shooting wide from a great position four
The hosts did have to survive one scary moment four
minutes before the interval, with goalkeeper Nir Davidovich diving superbly to
save Daniel Tozser’s deflected effort.
Haifa remained in control at the
start of the second half and Seidu Yahaya’s powerful shot from 20 meters out
after 61 minutes was only denied by a good Laszlo Koteles save.
moments later, however, Haifa’s defense was caught napping and Genk scored the
away goal it so desperately desired.
Davidovich did well to save Kennedy
Nwanganga initial effort, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Barda’s
shot from close range.
Barda’s goal completely deflated the Greens and by
the end of the match Haifa was happy just to hold on to its slender
Jelle Vossen shot just wide for Genk in the 69th minute, but
despite controlling the remainder of the encounter, the Belgians couldn’t beat
Davidovich, who ensured Haifa won with a sensational save three minutes from
In Wednesday’s other first-leg playoff match-ups, Bayern Munich beat
Zurich 2- 0, Dinamo Zagreb topped Malmo FF 4-1, OB Odense edged Villareal 1-0
and Wisla Krakow blanked APOEL Nicosia 1-0.