A late strike from supersub Shlomi Arbeitman helped Maccabi Haifa take a huge step towards the group stage of the Champions League after they beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Playing on an artificial pitch in Austria, the visitors made a dream start to the play-off round first leg when Israeli Under 21 star Mohammed Gadir headed home.
Salzburg, who have won three out of their first four matches in the Austrian Bundesliga, gradually fought their way back into the contest with Alexander Zickler levelling on 57 minutes, then squandered a host of half-chances.
To their credit, Haifa continued to threaten on the counter-attack.
The positive approach adopted by head coach Elisha Levi paid dividends six minutes from time when Arbeitman silenced the crowd with a deadly finish.
With two away goals in the bank, Haifa will start Tuesday night’s second leg as strong favourites to reach the money-spinning group stage.