Maccabi Haifa FC and RCD Espanyol were both left to rue a series of missed chances in a stalemate which ended the visitors' seven-game winning streak in this season's competition.
Espanyol midfielder Mohamed El Yaagoubi came closest to scoring during an entertaining UEFA Cup Round of 16 encounter when he rattled the woodwork after the interval. But in truth both sides lacked a cutting edge and will need to be more clinical in the second leg next week - when Maccabi pair Dirceu Xavir and Abas Suan will be suspended.
Espanyol, playing their first European tie on Israeli soil, almost fell behind in the third minute when Roberto Colautti's drive was saved by goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. Yet after surviving the home team's early pressure, the Spanish club responded with Daniel Jarque directing a free-kick straight at Maccabi No1 Nir Davidovich. Home midfielder Lior Rafaelov was then presented with a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock but shot straight at Iraizoz from the centre of the penalty area. Haim Magrashvili blazed over before Rafaelov got his aim wrong from distance as the hosts continued to push forward before the interval.
The second half saw little goalmouth action until El Yaagoubi went desperately close when his attempt from outside the box hit the crossbar following Francisco Rufete's cross in the 64th minute. Maccabi nearly punished them as Rafaelov volleyed over from close range as the game swung from end to end, while Magrashvili was equally wasteful when he hammered a shot high and wide when well placed. Espanyol had the chance to grab a winner in the dying stages yet substitute Albert Riera fired straight at Davidovich when it seemed easier to score. It summed up the night.