Maccabi Haifa Taste European Soccer Glory With 2-0 Victory Over Juventus
Maccabi Haifa made Israeli soccer history on Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory over Italian giants Juventus in their UEFA Champions League clash before a crowd of 30,000 at the Sammy Ofer stadium.
Maccabi forward Omer Atzili opened the scoring after only seven minutes when a cross from Pierre Cornud deflected off his back, bouncing into the goal. Atzili then added a second in the dying minutes of the first half as Juventus midfielder Juan Cuadrado was dispossessed of the ball in the center of the park. A fine run from Maccabi’s Haitian international Frantzi Pierrot found Atzili on the edge of the Juventus penalty area, from where he curled a left-footed shot over the outstretched Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
The victory marked Maccabi Haifa’s first in the Champion’s League in 20 years, following their sensational 3-0 victory over English champions Manchester United in 2002.
The Israelis are unlikely to qualify for the competition’s group stage, having lost their previous three games before Tuesday night’s match, but the win over Juventus, a side that has chalked up a record 36 Italian championship titles, has certainly motivated the team. “Sometimes when you go to bed and close your eyes you think of moments like this,” Atzili said after the match. “Now we have to think about the next match.”
The loss for Juventus has piled the pressure on coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side are languishing in eighth place in the domestic league following a 2-0 loss to AC Milan on Saturday.
Maccabi Haifa will travel to Paris on Oct. 25 for the next Champions League game against French champions PSG, before meeting with Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in a home clash on Nov. 2.