Maccabi Haifa earn Champions League spot

By Simon Griver, August 26, 2009

Maccabi Haifa 3
Red Bull Salzburg 0

Maccabi Haifa beat Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 on Tuesday night to reach the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2002.

More than 33,000 fans at the Ramat Gan National Stadium saw the Greens complete a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory over the Austrian champions to earn the club a second-ever appearance in football's richest club competition.

The victory was a personal triumph for Haifa’s manager Elisha Levy, who as in the first leg last week, started the game by fielding Eyal Golosa, 17, and Mohammed Ghadir, 18, two unproven teenagers. The youngsters both rewarded Levy by scoring second half goals.

By then the game was well beyond Salzburg's grasp. The Austrians were incompetent in defence and never threatened Nir Davidovich's goal, so the crowd were able to sit back and wait for the goals to arrive.

After 31 minutes, the excellent Yaniv Katan put Vladimer Dvalishvili through, and though the big Georgian's first effort was smothered by two Salzburg's defenders, he latched on to the loose ball to shoot past Edward Gustafsson.

Golosa doubled the lead just before the hour with a speculative shot that took a wicked deflection off a defender, and man-of-the-match Ghadir grabbed a last minute gift goal following a dreadful mix-up between Gustafsson and Barry Opdam.

Levy said, "We won this game in the best possible fashion with fast, attractive football. It was a great night with a marvellous atmosphere and most important of all we maintained the traditions of this club."

Last updated: 9:00am, August 26 2009