Juventus suffered yet another massive blow for their season this evening as they were defeated by a brave Maccabi Haifa side, who picked up their first win of the Champions League campaign thanks to a brace from Omer Atzili.
Juve had never lost three of their first four matches in the group stage before, but the win was well deserved for a buzzing Haifa team that played with a lot of energy — a stark contrast to the Italians, who were second best.
Haifa had the perfect start, taking the lead in the seventh minute when winger Atzili headed home Pierre Cornud’s cross, which left Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny scrambling on the goal line as he failed to keep the ball out.
Five minutes later, Tjaronn Chery’s free-kick came off the bar before Szczesny was forced into another diving save from long range as the visitors struggled to impose themselves on a team they beat 3-1 in the reverse fixture.
Juventus lost Di Maria to injury yet again, with the Argentine winger grabbing his hamstring before the half-hour mark before his withdrawal.
The home side continued to pile the pressure on, and it paid off just before half-time when Atzili doubled the lead with a stinging strike to Szczesny’s near post, which the Polish keeper got a hand to but could not keep out.
Juventus had their chances but were again denied in the final third, while Maccabi’s American keeper Josh Cohen made a couple of fine saves to keep a clean sheet.
For Haifa, it was their first victory in a Champions League game since they beat Olympiakos in the group stage in 2002.