Maccabi Haifa suffered their fourth consecutive Champions League defeat on Tuesday night, going down 1-0 to Italian giants Juventus in Ramat Gan.
Teased and tormented by the Serie A outfit, Haifa’s European scoring drought continued as they failed to register for a fourth consecutive match.
Unlike the corresponding encounter a fortnight ago in Turin, Haifa failed to get a foothold in the game as Juve’s Brazilian playmaker Diego dictated the contest.
With Haifa’s Nir Davidovitch by the busier keeper, the Israelis defended for their lives against technically superior opposition. They held out until just before half time when a deflected volley from Mauro Camoranesi's proved decisive as the Greens were beaten by a single goal for the third time in four Champions League matches.
Cheered on by 39, 120 fans at the national stadium, Haifa’s biggest threat once again came from Georgia striker Vladimer Dvalishili. Their best chance came midway through the first half when a Yaniv Katan corner was headed down by Dekel Keinan. Dvalishvili reacted fastest, flicking the ball over a Gianluigi Buffon, only for the Bianconeri No.1 to claw the ball away to safety.
Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. "The first half was our weakest performance so far in this competition. The players cannot be faulted for a lack of effort or commitment because they did their best, but it wasn't enough."
Striker Shlomi Arbeitman commented: "It wasn't easy and we conceded a goal out of nowehere," he told uefa.com. "After that it was difficult to get back into it and we struggled. It's a shame but we have to look forward. We tried, we worked hard, but the ball just refused to go in."
Qualification for the Europa League is still a possibility for Haifa, who face a trip to Bayern Munich on November 25 before concluding their campaign at home to Bordeaux on December 8.
Arbeitman remains optimistic that Haifa can salvage something from the group. "We have a very young side with 18 and 19-year-old players which makes us very dynamic," he said. "To their and our credit, no one felt inferior and we stood our ground bravely."
Matchwinner Diego said: "The Champions League is always hard; it is difficult to play anywhere. We know that and because of that we show teams respect. Maybe it was because of that that we won."
Haifa: Nir Davidovitch, Jorge Teixeira, Jhon Jairo Culma (sub: Mohammad Ghadir 46), Vladimer Dvalishili (sub: Lior Refaelov 56), Boccoli (sub: Israel Zaguri), Tsepo Masielela, Ali Osman, Shlmi Arbeitman, Yani Katan, Dekel Keinan, Eyal Meshumar. Subs not used: Amir Edri, Alon Harazi, Shai Maymon, Talb Tawatha,
Booked: Masilela 26, Culma 36, Osman 71
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon, Martin Caceres, Giorgio Chellini, Felipe Melo, Fabio Grosso, Amauri (sub: David Trezeguet 84), Mauro Camoranesi, Christian Poulsen, Diego, Tiago (sub: Paolo De Ceglie 60), Nicola Legrottaglie. Subs not used: Alex Manninger, Fabio Cannavaro, Cristian Molinaro, Zdenek Grygera, Ciro Immobile
Booked: Melo 35
Goal: Camoranesi 45 (+2)
Group A table,/b>
Bordeaux Pl. 4, Pts. 10
Juventus Pl. 4, Pts. 8
Bayern Munich Pl. 4, Pts. 4
Maccabi Haifa Pl. 4, Pts. 0