Haifa well beaten in Champions League opener

By Danny Caro, September 15, 2009

Maccabi Haifa were beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich in the first match of the Champions League group stage at Ramat Gan National Stadium.

Tuesday night's clash saw Bayern's experience, patient approach play and superior finishing pay dividends in a match where all the goals came in the second half.

Both sides went into the game missing key players. For Haifa, Tiago Dutra was sidelined with a knee injury, while Jhon Culma Jairo was serveing out a one-game ban. Bayern's list of absentees included Italian striker Luca Toni (achilles), Martín Demichelis (ankle) and Mark van Bommel (broken toe).

Returning to the Champions League group stage for the first time in seven years, Haifa went into the game on the back of three straight league victories and with Georgian striker Vladimer Dvalishvili in fine form, with five goal from the early rounds of the competition.

With Haifa keeper Nir Davidovitch, Israel's No. 2 looking particularly shaky, it was the visitors that had the better of a tight first half, having a goal disallowed for offside. The Germans dominated possession, having 68 per cent of the ball, although Haifa finished the half strongly.

The Greens threatened at the start of the second period with captain Yaniv Katan going close twice.

Dutch danger man Arjen Robben stung the hands of Davidovitch after 56 minutes, his deflected free-kick superbly pushed around the post.

Bayern took the leads seconds after French international Franck Ribéry was substituted. A goal-mouth scramble saw the ball fall to centre-back Daniel Van Buyten who smashed the ball past Davidovitch.

The Haifa stopper continued his nervy display, misjudging a corner, allowing Ivica Olic to head goalwards only for a covering defender to hook off the line.

Elisha Levy, the Haifa manager, introduced his third substitute of the evening after 73 minutes with Lior Refaelov thrown on to give the home side more options in the final third.

With Katan continuing to threaten, Munich keeper Hans-Jörg Butt was alert to tip over following a promising Haifa attack.

Contining to knock on the door for an equaliser, Katan's dangerous cross was met by the head of Dvalishvili but Butt plucked the ball out of the air on his goalline.

Patient in their approach play, Munich clinched the points after 85 minutes when Thomas Müller's deflected 18-yard drive whistled past Davidovitch.

Substitute Mario Gómez set up the third, putting in a low cross for Müller to blast home on the run.

Outsiders to qualify from the group, Haifa face testing trips to Bordeaux and Juventus in the coming weeks.

Haifa: Nir Davidovitch, Jorge Teixeira, Gustavo Boccoli, Vladimer Dvalishvili, Eyal Golasa, Mohammad Ghadir (sub: Ali Osman 68), Tsepo Masilela, Yaniv Katan (capt), Dekel Keinan, Baram Kayal (sub: Shlomi Arbeitman 68), Eyal Meshumar (sub: Lior Refaelov 73). Subs: Amir Edri, Alon Harazi
Shai Maymon, Eial Strahman

Booked: Gustgavo Boccoli 80

Bayern: Hans-Jörg Butt, Daniel Van Buyten, Franck Ribéry (sub: Mario Gómez 64), Arjen Robben (sub: Andreas Ottl), Ivica Olić, Philipp Lahm, Danijel Pranjić, Thomas Müller, Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Subs: Michael Rensing, Edson Braafheid, Hamit Altıntop
Breno, José Ernesto Sosa

Goals: Daniel Van Buyten 64, Thomas Müller 85, Mario Gómez 88

Bookings: Franck Ribéry 48, Philipp Lahm 84

Last updated: 9:46pm, September 15 2009