Comeback kings Haifa through to playoff round

Yani Katan

Yani Katan

Maccabi Haifa produced a sensational comeback to book their place in the Champions League playoff round after overturning a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 win over FK Aktobe.

Having drawn 0-0 in Kazakhstan last week, Haifa found themselves 3-0 down inside 15 minutes of the second leg at Kiryat Eliezer.

Former West Ham star Yaniv Katan, the Haifa captain, started the fightback. Eyal Golasa made it 2-3 in the 32nd minute, in a game where Haifa had four players booked.

Two second half strikes from summer signing Vladimer Dvalishvili completed the dramatic turnaround. The Georgian international, recently signed from igning from Skonto FC, hit the winner after 62 minutes, when he found space in the area and to slot home.

"I don't remember such drama in such an important match," coach Elisha Levy said.

"We hadn't taken our seats yet and we were trailing by three goals. Our defensive play was very disappointing. But we came back and after we scored our first goal I saw the match is alive and that we can go all the way.

"I'm delighted we managed to comeback from such a difficult situation and it really was a difficult situation."

Last updated: 11:01am, August 5 2009