Maccabi Haifa beaten by Juventus

By Danny Caro, October 22, 2009
Follow Danny on Twitter

Maccabi Haifa were denied an unlikely point by the brilliance of Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon as they lost their third consecutive match in the Champions League group stage.

Played in torrential rain at the Stadio Del Alpi in Turin, Haifa went in search of their first goal and point against the Italian giants.

Missing captain Yaniv Katan and Eyal Golasa, few outside of Israel gave the Greens a chance. But they almost made a dream start when Georgian striker Vladimer Dvalishvili’s diving header was clawed away by Buffon in the opening minute.

At times it looked as though Juventus were toying with the Israelis who threatened on the counter.

Haifa keeper Nir Davidovitch had to be alert to block a stinging drive from Fabio Grosso.

As the half wore on, and with Juventus showing few signings of breaking the deadlock in their bid for a first victory in the group stage, with the fans at the Stadio Olimpico showing signs of frustration.

Driven on by Sebastian Giovinco's quick feet and Grosso's surging overlaps, Juventus continued to threaten with French striker David Trezeguet, playing his 300th match for the team, poking a volley wide.

Haifa’s resistance was finally broken two minutes into the second half when a brilliant free-kick from Diego's found the head of Chiellini who could not miss from two yards.

Rather than try to kill Haifa off, Juventus were content to sit on their slender advantage.

The decision almost came back to haunt them as Dvalishvili took up some dangerous positions and were it not for the reflexes of Buffon, Haifa might have pulled off one of the shocks of the week.

Haifa’s chances received a blow midway through the half when substitute Dutra was sent off 12 minutes from replacing Lior Refaelov, following a dangerous challenge on goal-scorer Chiellini.

As the final whistle blew, Avishai Levy’s troops were left to reflex on their third failure.

Levy said: “This is yet another annoying loss. 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.”

Dekel Keinan said: "I'm proud of our team. There is no doubt Juventus is better than us in every parameter, but we still felt we could have done something here."

Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Felipe Melo (sub: Poulsen 62), Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Grosso, Jonathan Zebina (sub: Martín Cáceres 35), Mauro Camoranesi, David Trezeguet (sub; Amauri 81), Sebastian Giovinco, Mohamed Sissoko, Diego

Goal: Chiellini 47

Haifa: Nir Davidovitch, Jorge Teixeira, Gustavo Boccoli, Jhon Jairo Culma, Vladimer Dvalishvili, Tsepo Masilela (sub: Zaguri 46), Ali Osman, Shlomi Arbeitman (sub: Ghadir 46), Dekel Keinan, Lior Refaelov (sub: Dutra 56), Eyal Meshumar

Bookings: Culma 11, Teixeira 31, Osman 38, Zaguri 51, Boccoli 90

Sent off: Dutra 68

    Last updated: 11:48am, October 22 2009