Maccabi Haifa and Olympiacos played to a 1-1 draw in UEFA Champions League second round first leg action at Sammy Ofer Stadium by the Carmel Mountain. The Greens will head to Piraeus, Greece level thanks to a lucky goal by Dolev Haziza in second half injury time to cancel out Philip Zinckernagel’s 7th minute marker. Barak Bachar’s team will need to win in Athens in order to move into the third round where they would play Apollon Limassol from Cyprus. If Haifa falls to Olympiacos they will head to Europa League their round qualifying where they will face the loser of the Ferencváros (HUN) / Slovan Bratislava (SVK) tie with the winner moving onto the playoff round.
The visitors opened the scoring early as Philip Zinckernagel tapped home a poor clearance by Haifa newcomer Pierre Cornud to give Olympiacos a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute. However, as Pedro Martins squad nursed the slim lead, Dolev Haziza found the equalizer late in the match when he took his own defected attempt and took and flicked the ball over his head with his back to the goal and somehow his attempt found its way into the far corner of the net to send the Greens to Greece for the second leg all even at 1-1.
“After we scored we needed to run to the center of pitch aa we could have won this match,” Bachar said following the game. “This is an important mental issue and we deserved to win. We showed character as we slowly but surely got back into the match, however, two goals were also called off. We still control our own destiny and anything is possible. Sammy Ofer is something totally different than Piraeus, but we have to believe as we have a strong team that can do it all.”
Dolev Haziza also reflected on his goal and the game itself, “I told myself I would just give it a try and maybe the ball would go in. This was justice after there were a number of whistles that really ticked us off. After they scored we were dangerous all over the pitch and it wouldn’t have been fair had we lost here. If there had been another ten minuets we would have won this match as we found extra energy.”