A goal six minutes from time from substitute Shlomi Arbeitman earned Israeli titleholders Maccabi Haifa FC a surprise win against FC Salzburg, leaving the Austrian team with it all to do in next week's UEFA Champions League play-off second leg.
The visitors began the game the brighter of the two sides, taking the lead midway through the first half thanks to a header from Mohammad Ghadir. Salzburg slowly worked their way back into the game and equalised through Alexander Zickler on 57 minutes, but Maccabi were always a threat on the counterattack and Elisha Levi's charges snatched victory against the run of play through Arbeitmann.
Salzburg did not have to wait long for the visitors to demonstrate their ability to turn defence into attack which saw them recover from 3-0 down to beat FK Aktobe in the third qualifying round. Eyal Golasa went close as early as the third minute with a fearsome drive from inside the area that was tipped over by Edward Gustafsson. Eyal Meshumar's probing runs on the right were proving an effective outlet and it was the full-back who fashioned a deserved opener, crossing for the unchallenged Ghadir to nod into the far corner.
It was an obvious setback for Salzburg but they slowly regained their composure and enjoyed a good spell of pressure as half-time approached, with former FC Bayern München striker Zickler's turn and low right-foot drive from just inside the box bringing a good save from Nir Davidovitch. Maccabi began the second period with a bang, almost scoring directly from the kick-off with a sweeping move that ended with a fierce Ghadir effort being tipped over by the impressive Gustafsson. However, at the other end Zickler was belying his age with a tireless performance duly rewarded when the 35-year-old outpaced the Maccabi centre-backs before stabbing past Davidovitch.
Salzburg seized the initiative, Dušan Švento providing a constant threat at set-pieces as Maccabi's intricate passing moves began to wane. Yet the Austrian champions failed to make their chances count and were duly punished when Lior Rafaelov fed fellow replacement Arbeitmann to finish calmly past Gustafsson. Salzburg now have it all to do if they are to prevent Maccabi reaching the group stage for only the second time.
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