Liverpool 2-1 Maccabi Haifa

August 10th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Liverpool 2-1 Maccabi Haifa

Mark Gonzalez took a long time getting to Liverpool - over a year of red tape and work permit trouble - but he was only on the field for three minutes of his debut before scoring what could be a priceless winner as his side beat Maccabi Haifa 2-1.

Liverpool, though, still know that the #10million-plus of Champions League money that comes from group stage qualification is hanging by a thread wherever they have to play the second leg of this third qualifying round tie.

One more performance as shot-shy as this third qualifying round first leg clash at Anfield and they could miss out on a lucrative Champions League run.
The Reds made hard work of the game. Gustavo Boccoli stunned Anfield by putting the Israelis ahead but Craig Bellamy, also on his debut, bagged an equaliser soon after.
Yet from then on it was painful for Liverpool fans until boss Rafael Benitez gambled on taking off his skipper Steven Gerrard with five minutes left.
Three minutes later Gonzalez was engulfed by delirious colleagues after scoring a valuable winner.
Benitez had opted to leave England striker Peter Crouch on the bench and elected for Bellamy on his own up front.
It gave Gerrard a forward role and saw another new man, Jermaine Pennant, having plenty of the ball on the right.
It seemed clear from the start that Liverpool were acutely aware of the need for victory but Haifa, already denied home advantage in the second leg, were intent on making life difficult.
Bellamy had three central defenders to deal with but was a bundle of effort, pace and running from the off.
Pennant got plenty of service, but without Crouch to aim at, there was little of a target for the ex-Birmingham man.
Haifa skipper Yaniv Katan, back with the club after an unsuccessful spell at West Ham, was used on the right with Argentinian striker Roberto Colautti roaming free up front on his own.
John Arne Riise saw a 25-yarder fizz wide of the far post and Jamie Carragher, following a free-kick, was next to try his luck, forcing Nir Davidovitch to save to his left.
But with all their possession Liverpool created little, and it was Haifa who stunned the home fans by taking the lead on 28 minutes.
And they cut through the centre of Liverpool's defence far too easily. Boccoli ran from deep and played a pass inside to Colautti, whose return sent the Brazilian racing through on his own to guide his shot into the far bottom corner.
But the lead lasted just four minutes. Pennant, Gerrard and Mohamed Sissoko combined, with the latter seeing his 20-yarder palmed into the path Bellamy to calmly fire home.
Liverpool toiled away at the beginning of the second half but little was going right. Much was breaking down around Bolo Zenden and it was no surprise when he was taken off on 55 minutes.
Luis Garcia entered the fray with Gerrard moving to a right-sided role and the little Spaniard pushed in behind Bellamy.
But Liverpool were short of ideas, unless they were aimed at Bellamy's darting runs.
Liverpool desperately needed clear water between themselves and the Israelis but they could easily have gone behind again when Colautti saw a header bounce just wide.
Sissoko was booked for a foul on Boccoli, Liverpool's frustrations getting stronger. The Haifa midfielder was eventually carried off, only to jog back on almost immediately.
Then on 65 minutes Liverpool sent on Crouch for Bellamy, still with Gerrard wide. The angle of attack now a few feet higher with Bellamy off.
Crouch saw a header saved by Davidovitch from a Carragher cross as Liverpool now piled forward and came from wide again, this time from a Steve Finnan cross.
The method of attack by now was one-dimensional but was having more effect than anything previously seen.
Luis Garcia weaved his way through and sent in a low cross that Crouch failed to react quickly enough to. Colautti was booked for dissent before Pennant saw a deflected free-kick saved superbly by a wrong-footed Davidovitch. It was hard to see Liverpool breaking through.
Then Benitez sent on Gonzalez for Gerrard on 85 minutes, Haifa replacing Katan with Maor Melicsohn.
And three minutes later the Chile international struck what could be a crucial goal. Xabi Alonso's ball in from the right found its way to Gonzalez, and although he slipped, he was able to regain his feet and clip the ball into the far corner.
August 11th, 2006  
very close thing and macabi played well, but i think we (Liverpool) deserved to win and it will be a very edgy encounter when we play them in cyprus

August 11th, 2006  
Team Infidel
great video, thanks for sharing.

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