By Eivind Aarre
Two strikes in the first eight minutes boosted Rosenborg BK's bid to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage for the ninth time in ten seasons, but an away goal by Maccabi Haifa FC ensured that the tie remains in the balance.
Within the first minute the home team were ahead, Harald Brattbakk's shot finding the target despite the desperate intervention of a defender. It was soon 2-0 as Ørjan Berg found Brattbakk on the left, and the striker's cross was turned in by Jan Gunnar Solli.
It was a shock to Maccabi's system, and Rosenborg piled forward with the thought of a big lead to take to Israel on 24 August in their minds. Roar Strand went close on 25 minutes, but his lob missed the target.
Indeed, Rosenborg could not find that precious third goal, and on the stroke of half-time Giovani Rosso, a veteran of Maccabi's group stage appearance in 2002/03, claimed a crucial away goal when he pounced on a cross in the box and sent a shot into the roof of the net.
Now the home side were under pressure, with their advantage looking slender. But although Frode Johnsen and Brattbakk went close, neither side could find another goal, meaning a tense return, which will be played in Tel-Aviv rather than Haifa due to security regulations.
Maccabi coach Roni Levy said of his team: "I have nothing but praise and respect for them. To be able to bounce back after conceding two early goals in such an important match is no easy task. My players were superb tonight and showed their ability at the highest level."
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