Israeli side Maccabi Haifa FC held Olympiakos Piraeus FC to a 3-3 draw at the Gipedo Rizoupolis stadium in UEFA Champions League Group F to claim their berth in the third round of the UEFA Cup.
Haifa, playing in Greece for the first time in their history, struck twice inside the first ten minutes through Walid Badir and Yakubu Ayegbeni to throw Olympiakos completely off their stride. Although the home team pulled a goal back on 40 minutes through Alexios Alexandris, Yaniv Katan hit back straight away to seemingly rule out any hopes of a comeback. Andreas Niniadis and Paraskevas Antzas scored late on to level the scores but it was too little, too late for the Greek side.
Giannakopoulos drills wide
Olympiakos, with new coach Srecko Katanec leading the club in Europe for the first time, did have the first chance when Stylianos Giannakopoulos drilled wide after a free-kick, but the side paid dearly for their determination to strike an early goal.
Badir slotted in the opening goal on ten minutes when he raced on to a pass from Giovani Rosso to beat goalkeeper Dimitrios Eleftheropoulos. Ayegbeni, a hat-trick hero on Matchday Two against the Greek team, then doubled the lead, striding into the box to finish easily.
Haifa then dropped the tempo and allowed the home team a greater grip on the game, Pär Zetterberg going close from outside the box and Alexandris almost grabbing a goal when his header cannoned off the crossbar on the half-hour.
Ray of hope
The hosts' increased pressure was rewarded when Alexandris buried a fine angled strike five minutes before the interval after he was set on his way by Predrag Djordjevic, who put through a tremendous ball with the outside of his left foot.
Good work undone
Brazilian forward Giovanni should have equalised but he fired straight at Haifa goalkeeper Dudu Awat from close range. Then all the good work done by Olympiakos crumbled when Yaniv Katan hit Haifa's third, collecting a cross-field ball from Alon Harazi to go one-on-one with Eleftheropoulos and gently convert.
Substitute on target
Olympiakos reduced the deficit for the second time immediately after the interval, substitute Andreas Niniadis cutting along the edge of the area to unleash a bending shot with his left foot that nestled in the bottom corner.
It was a wonderful goal but such was the unenviable position of the hosts that they had to score again - and quickly - to rectify the damage. Although Alexandris, certainly the pick of the Olympiakos players, went close when he hit the side-netting and Giovanni forced Awat to tip his header over the bar, too much time had elapsed before defender Paraskevas Antzas levelled on 80 minutes, heading in a Djordjevic corner from the left.
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