Barda back to haunt Haifa

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BY JAMES MAS­TERS

Elyaniv Barda used to be a hero in Haifa. Now the Is­rael star could be the man to de­prive his for­mer club of a Cham­pi­ons League place.

Hav­ing won two league ti­tles with Mac­cabi Haifa be­tween 2003-5, Barda dealt his for­mer team-mates a mas­sive blow af­ter net­ting a cru­cial away goal in Wed­nes­day’s first leg for Bel­gian cham­pi­ons Genk.The 29-year-old smashed home a 61st minute ef­fort to re­duce the deficit to 2-1 af­ter Haifa had threat­ened to run riot in the first-half.

Mac­cabi will now have their work cut in Bel­gium next week, de­spite Genk fac­ing the prospect of start­ing the game with­out a full-time man­ager.

Boss Franky Ver­cauteren has signed a lu­cra­tive deal with United Arab Emi­rates club Al Jazira and is un­likely to be in charge.

Haifa will hope they can pull off a re­peat per­for­mance of their early dis­play, when they dom­i­nated Genk with some fast and flow­ing one-touch foot­ball.

Elisha Levi’s side got off to the per­fect start.

Genk were left shell­shocked as in­form strike duo Weeam Amasha and Vladimir Dval­ishvili ran them ragged, with both net­ting in­side the halfhour.

Amasha’s eighth minute opener — his fourth of the qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign — looked to have set the tone for the evening as the home side roared out of the traps.

Dval­ishvili then smashed the cross­bar with a rasp­ing free-kick be­fore dou­bling Haifa’s ad­van­tage, turn­ing home Eyal Go­lasa’s pin­point cross.

As the Greens pressed for­ward in search of a third, Amasha and Go­lasa both wasted de­cent op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Those misses were to prove cru­cial as old boy Barda wrig­gled free of the Haifa de­fence to fire a cru­cial away goal just past the hour mark.

It re­flected a markedly im­proved sec­ond-half per­for­mance by Genk, who are set to wel­come back Chelsea tar­get Kevin de Bruyne for Tues­day’s sec­ond leg.

Only a stun­ning last-gasp save by Nir Davi­dovitch pre­vented Kennedy Nwan­ganga from claim­ing a dra­matic equaliser.

Haifa are ex­pected to have de­fender Jurica Bul­jat back from sus­pen­sion for the sec­ond leg. For­mer Bolton man Tamir Co­hen is push­ing for a start.

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