juventus maccabi haifa 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Another valiant effort, but yet more heartache.
For a third consecutive match, Maccabi Haifa showed it can play on par with Europe's best, but once more it went home frustrated, having nothing to show for its efforts.
The Israeli team remains bottom of Champions League Group A with no points or goals after suffering a 1-0 loss to Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night.
In the other game of the night in Group A Bordeaux defeated Bayern Munich 2-1.
Haifa entered the match with low expectations after Yaniv Katan, Biram Kiyal and Eyal Golasa were all forced to miss out through injuries and suspension.
As expected, Juventus was in control for most of the game on a wet night in Italy, but Haifa still held its own and had its chances.
"This is yet another annoying loss," Hafia coach Elisha Levy said. "We were playing without three of our most important players, but those who played did everything right except for scoring.
"We faced a good team, but it is still a shame. We had enough chances to take points, but we could not do it. Nevertheless, we must continue this way and eventually we will take points."
Defender Dekel Keinan was also disappointed. "I'm proud of our team, but this is still frustrating," he said. "There is no doubt Juventus is better than us in every parameter, but we still felt we could have done something here."
Haifa almost got the match off to a dream start.
Gustavo Boccoli's cross was met by Vladimir Dvalishvili's head, but Gianluigi Buffon showed why he is considered to be one of the world's best goalkeepers and denied Maccabi the opener with his outstretched right hand.
In the subsequent minutes, Juve seized control and began to set the tempo. The hosts dominated the possession, with Haifa content to soak up the pressure and hit the Italians on the break.
Juventus registered its first shot on target in the ninth minute, with Fabio Grosso's powerful effort kept out by Maccabi 'keeper Nir Davidovitch. Grosso was involved once more 11 mintues later, crossing the ball for David Trezeguet, only for the Frenchman to place his shot wide.
In the 29th minute, Lior Rafaelov missed a decent chance from 20 meters, but Juvenus was in full control, even though it struggled to find the target.
One minute before the break Brazilian midfielder Diego came tantalizingly close to giving the hosts the lead, but once more Davidovitch was not required to make a save after the free kick screamed past the upright.
For a third straight continental match, Haifa entered the break in a goalless deadlock, but just two minutes into the second half it conceded the opener. Maccabi's defense could not deal with Diego's set-piece and an unmarked Giorgio Chiellini headed the ball beyond a helpless Davidovitch.
The goal broke Haifa hearts and encouraged Juventus, and the visitors had Davidovitch to thank for remaining just one goal behind. In the 55th minute, Grosso found Trezeguet with an accurate cross, but the Haifa 'keeper saved his team's blushes with an instinctive save.
Just a minute later, Sebastian Giovinco, Juve's best player on the pitch, thought he had scored, but Davidovitch did very well to deny the 22-year-old Italian.
After replacing Shlomi Arbeitman with Mohammad Ghadir and Peter Masilela with Israel Zaguri at the interval, Elisha Levy made his final substitution in the 56th minute, sending in Tiago Dutra for Rafaelov. However, the Brazilian midfielder's Champions League debut lasted just 12 minutes, with Dutra seeing a straight red-card for lashing out at Chiellini.
With a one-man advantage and a one-goal lead, Juventus comfortably controlled the match, but still failed to double its margin. The hosts very nearly paid a dear price for settling for a slender lead. Eight minutes before the final whistle, Dvalishvili did well to place a powerful shot on target, but Buffon was ready and cleared the danger.
Two minutes into stoppage time Haifa had its best chance to equalize. A superb break forward ended with the ball at the feet of Ghadir, but his shot was not good enough to beat Buffon and Maccabi ended yet another match feeling disappointed.
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