Juventus UCL hope in doubt after shock defeat to Maccabi

Juventus UCL hope in doubt after shock defeat to Maccabi


Juventus‘ hopes of progressing to the Champions League last 16 suffered a massive blow as they were stunned 2-0 by Maccabi Haifa.

The Bianconeri went into their third Group H encounter trailing pacesetters Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica by four points.

And their deficit to at least one of that duo will grow after they were outplayed by the Israeli champions on Tuesday at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Omer Atzili’s first-half double was the difference, but the margin of victory could have been greater for Maccabi as they claimed a famous win that will increase the scrutiny on under-fire Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Frantzdy Pierrot had Wojciech Szczesny scrambling to make a diving save in the fourth minute, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to deny the hosts soon after when Atzili flicked home Pierre Cornud’s left-wing cross.

Tjaronn Chery then struck the top of the crossbar with a free-kick before Atzili forced Szczesny into action once more at the end of a rapid counter-attack as Maccabi continued to pile pressure on Juve.

That pressure told again in stunning fashion just before half-time, Pierrot laying off for Atzili to shape a superb finish into the top-right corner after Juve had been dispossessed in their own half.

Juve eventually threatened a response, but Joshua Cohen was equal to Dusan Vlahovic’s header to preserve Maccabi’s two-goal advantage at the break.

Having replaced the injured Angel Di Maria with Arkadiusz Milik in the first half, Allegri threw on Filip Kostic and Manuel Locatelli at the start of the second half.

But neither had the desired impact as Maccabi hung on with relative comfort to leave Allegri’s men facing the legitimate prospect of a group-stage exit.

What does it mean? – Allegri running out of road

Ten points off the top of the Serie A table having won just three of their first nine games, Allegri’s Juventus had already attracted plenty of criticism.

Now with three defeats from four in the Champions League, there is likely to be increased talk about Allegri’s future in the job. His previous exploits in his first stint will not be enough to keep him in the post if things do not turn around quickly.

Maccabi end long wait

Maccabi’s victory was just their third in the Champions League, the previous two coming in 2002-03 when they beat Olympiacos and Manchester United.

With both of those wins coming in Cyprus – as UEFA banned continental games taking place in Israel at the time – this marked the first time Maccabi have won a group stage game at home.