Heartbreak for sloppy Maccabi Haifa at Thessaloniki

Haifa loses 3-2 in Europa League action, after PAOK's Dimitris Salpingidis scores winning goal at 66th minute.

Maccabi Haifa's Ruben Rayos 370 (photo credit: Uzi Gal)
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 Miroslav Stoch.
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 Dimitris Salpingidis.
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 shot.
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 corner.
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 again.
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.