RAMAT GAN, Israel, Nov 3, 2009 (AFP) - Juventus took a significant step towards the Champions League knockout phase by beating Maccabi Haifa 1-0 in their group stage game at the Ramat Gan Stadium here on Tuesday.
The Italian giants, who fell to their first home league defeat in nine months against Napoli on Saturday, opened the scoring through Mauro Camoranesi on the stroke of half-time and were rarely troubled in a turgid second half.
|Italian Juventus's fans are seen before the UEFA Champions League Group A football match against Israeli Maccabi Haifa on November 03, 2009 at the Ramat Gan Stadium near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Juventus won 1-0. AFP PHOTO|
Group A leaders Bordeaux's victory at Bayern Munich on Tuesday means that Juventus are now four points above the Germans in second place and require two points from their last two matches to progress.
"We hope to go to Bordeaux to win and qualify with a game in hand," Juve coach Ciro Ferrara told Sky Sport Italia.
"Clearly it was very important that we won tonight and after drawing (1-1) with Bordeaux in the first game, we have never really stopped moving ahead.
"I noticed the team had difficulty as we were not able to close the game out, like the one against Napoli. But it was important to get the three points. We suffered, but we deserved the win."
Home goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch was the busiest man in the ground in the game's early stages and was forced to save from Diego, twice, Amauri and Tiago as Juventus peppered his goal with shots.
Haifa eventually established a foothold in the game, though, with Georgian international striker Vladimir Dvalishvili testing Gianluigi Buffon from close range and then heading over from Yaniv Katan's cross moments later.
Davidovitch was called upon again to push an Amauri effort around the post as Juve re-asserted their authority and Tiago saw an attempted chip land on the roof of the net 10 minutes before half-time.
With half-time beckoning Juve broke the hosts' resistance, Camoranesi latching onto Martin Caceres's right-wing cross and cracking the ball past Davidovitch via the aid of a deflection.
Juve narrowly edged Haifa by the same scoreline when they met in Turin and Ferrara's side once again succeeded in keeping the Israelis at arm's length in the second period, although Shlomi Arbeitman gave them a couple of scares with two headers that were narrowly off-target.
A fourth consecutive group stage defeat means Haifa can no longer qualify for the next round and they must win their remaining two matches to stand any chance of overhauling Bayern to qualify for the Europa League.