Champions League: Bordeaux proves too fine for Haifa

Champions League Bordea

maccabi haifa bordeaux 248 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi haifa bordeaux 248 88
(photo credit: )
For a second straight Champions League match, Maccabi Haifa proved on Wednesday night that it can compete with Europe's best. However, once more it ended the 90 minutes on the losing end, suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Bordeaux, two weeks after falling 3-0 to Bayern Munich. Haifa was equal to the French champion for the majority of the encounter at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, but in the 83rd minute it was undone by a set-piece, with poor marking allowing Michael Ciani to head in the winner from a corner kick. "This is very disappointing because we played so well," captain Yaniv Katan said. "This is cruel, but we need to know how to take the good things from this match and look forward to our next encounter." Coach Elisha Levy echoed his captain's sentiment. "We played the right way and they hardly created scoring opportunities," Levy said. "This is frustrating. I felt we could have won the match, but we lost and now we need to make sure we remember all the positives from tonight." Haifa began the match well, dictating the pace and frustrating Bordeaux. The hosts struggled to combine more than a couple of consecutive passes and Maccabi 'keeper Nir Davidovich had little work. Vladimir Dvalishvili reached Haifa's first chance of the match, turning and shooting high above Cedric Carrasso's goal in the third minute. The Greens' encouraging start to the game nearly turned sour 10 minutes later, with Bordeaux star Yoann Gourcuff beating Dekel Keinan to the ball, only to send his header wide. Haifa's defenders were not afraid to push forward when they had a chance, with both Eyal Meshumar and Peter Masilela threatening Carrasso's goal. In the 14th minute, Meshumar forced a save from Carrasso with his surprising long range effort, while Masilela also came close 13 minutes later, sending a powerful shot across the goal. Meshumar could have helped Haifa take the lead had he timed his pass better seven minutes before halftime, but despite the missed opportunity Maccabi was still delighted as the whistle for the break sounded. The French champion had only managed to register a single shot on target in the first half, with Haifa playing just as well, if not better, than the hosts. Laurent Blanc's displeasure with his team's first 45 minutes was evident when he replaced playmaker Gourcuff with Fernando at the interval. However, the second half was almost a continuation of the first, and six minutes after the break, the visitors almost snatched the opener. Carrasso raced out of goal but completely missed Katan's cross and Dvalishvili would have given Maccabi the lead had he placed his header on target. Haifa began to tire as the match progressed and mistakes started to creep into its game. In the 70th minute, Marouane Chamakh headed the ball into the path of two incoming Bordeaux strikers, but Davidovich just got a hand on the ball and David Bellion could not score on the rebound. Moments later, Bellion only had Davidovich to beat, but he shot straight at the 'keeper. Elisha Levy replaced Mohammad Ghadir with Lior Rafaelov and the substitution almost resulted in a goal. Rafaelov reached a one-on-one with Carrasso in the 78th minute, but his shot was just kept out by the 'keeper. Five minutes later, Bordeaux broke the deadlock. Bone-tired defending on a corner kick allowed Ciani to send a header beyond Davidovich, devastating Haifa. Two minutes before the final whistle, Maccabi's misery was complete, with Biram Kiyal showing exactly how he and his teammates were feeling, taking his frustration out at Benoit Tremoulinas with a lunging tackle, leaving the referee with no option but to send him off.