Maccabi Haifa 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa's European dream refuses to end. Haifa defeated CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Thursday night at Bloomfield Stadium and advanced to the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, which guaranteed European soccer for Israeli fans deep into March.
Roberto Colautti scored the only goal of the two-legged tie in the 14th minute of Thursday's match and, thanks to a mixture of fortune and fight, the hosts withstood CSKA's relentless pressure to knock out the 2005 cup winner.
Haifa's next opponent was determined later Thursday night as Spanish side Espanyol visited Italian outfit Livorno.
Haifa was the livelier side at the start of the match, but the visitors were the first to register a dangerous shot on goal. Jo broke free of the hosts' defense in the 11th minute, but could only blast his shot just wide of Nir Davidovitch's goal.
Maccabi's dominance began to bear fruit as the match progressed and under-fire striker Colautti was well placed to give his club the lead in the 14th minute. Alain Masudi took advantage of confusion in the Russian defense and hit a shot with his left foot that rebounded off the post straight to the feet of Colautti, who had no trouble tapping in the ball from the goal line.
Moscow pushed for an equalizer immediately from the restart and the hosts were fortunate to hold on to their lead until halftime. A good team move by the visitors in the 26th minute allowed Evgeny Aldonin plenty of time to aim his shot from the edge of the area, but the midfielder couldn't hit the target.
Five minutes later, CSKA was centimeters away from scoring when Yori Zhirkov rose above everybody else and headed the ball just over Davidovitch's goal.
Daniel Caravalho should have tied the score four minutes before halftime, but his weak volley from just inside the area was easily collected by Davidovitch, allowing Haifa to maintain its one-goal lead.
The visitors were in full control in the second half and it wasn't long before they began to threaten the Maccabi goal. Six minutes after the break, Jo only had Davidovitch to beat, but the Brazilian striker was denied by the 'keeper's excellent save.
A minute later, Caravalho squandered a fantastic opportunity when he missed the target with his shot from 20 meters out.
The Russian club continued to press forward and in the 61st minute was denied once again by Davidovitch, who tipped Caravalho's free kick over the crossbar.
Moscow's pressure was relentless, but the hosts had a chance to wrap up the tie in the 77th minute. Gustavo Boccoli hit a superb right-footed shot from just outside the area which was denied by 'keeper Igor Akinfeev's acrobatic save.
CSKA continued to surge ahead and in the 90th minute had one final opportunity to disappoint the fans at Bloomfield. Dudu was first to his side's corner kick, but his header went just over Davidovitch's goal and Maccabi booked its place in the last 16.
As of press time, Glasgow Rangers had taken a 2-0 lead - and 3-2 aggregate advantage - into halftime of its second leg against visiting Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Barry Ferguson (24') and Kris Boyd (35') scored for the hosts.
Also Thursday night, Bayer Leverkusen defeated Blackburn by a 3-2 aggregate score, after a goalless draw in the second leg.
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