By Ofer Ronen-Abels at the Ramat Gan
A second-half penalty converted by Roy Makaay brought FC Bayern München victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in Group C in the first UEFA Champions League match to be played in Israel.
The Dutch striker sent Maccabi Tel-Aviv goalkeeper Liran Strauber the wrong way on 64 minutes to earn Bayern their first away victory in the Champions League in three seasons, and ruin the home side's first match in the competition.
Striker Ishmael Addo recovered from a knee injury to lead the line for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and coach Nir Klinger made just one change from the side that beat PAOK FC 1-0 last month to ensure qualification to the group stage for the first time - new signing Yehoshua Nagar making his debut at left-back in place of the suspended Salem Abo-Siam.
New Bayern coach Felix Magath had a long list of absentees to contend with, notably forwards Claudio Pizarro, Roque Santa Cruz and Vahid Hashemian, so Makaay started alone up front. Sebastian Deisler and Owen Hargreaves, substitutes in the weekend win over DSC Arminia Bielefeld, came into a five-man midfield in place of Hashemian and Andreas Görlitz, with Hasan Salihamidzic filling in at right-back.
An uneventful first half passed with Bayern dominating possession, but lacking any real menace in attack. Maccabi Tel-Aviv looked to use the pace of Addo on the break to unsettle the German side and he drew Lucio into a rash challenge on six minutes when the Brazilian was booked for a cynical block near the halfway line.
But both sides lacked a cutting edge and Makaay was largely starved of chances, coming closest on 18 minutes when he headed Michael Ballack's cross well wide. At the other end, Oliver Kahn was largely untroubled, but almost conceded a goal on 23 minutes before having made a save. The home side pressed with a series of corners then Liran Cohen crossed for Tamir Cohen who sent a header wide from close range.
Tobias Rau's runs down the left gave Bayern some penetration and Ballack and Zé Roberto combined well at times, but Avi Strool and Giovanini in the heart of the Maccabi Tel-Aviv defence were rarely threatened. Deisler shot tamely over on 31 minutes, and it was not until the final minute of the half that Strauber actually had to make a save, blocking a stinging long-range shot from Zé Roberto after a powerful run down the centre from the Brazilian.
Klinger was deploying Moshe Mishaelof as defensive cover in front of the Maccabi back four and the tactic worked in putting a stranglehold on midfield. But the introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger for Deisler at half-time gave Bayern more momentum and the youngster twice went close before the German side finally went ahead on 64 minutes.
Zé Roberto was the instigator of the goal, drawing John Pantsil into a clumsy challenge in the penalty area. Makaay stepped up to take the penalty and gently rolled the ball beyond Strauber. The home side looked to hit back immediately and Tamir Cohen's volley forced Kahn into a smart save low to his left. But as Maccabi Tel-Aviv opened up Bayern found more space and Lucio almost doubled the lead with a header at the far post on 73 minutes.
Bayern were in control but almost threw their lead away at the death when Erez Mesika was given space on the edge of the area and only Kahn's superb reflexes prevented the Bavarian side from dropping two points.