French champions Bordeaux maintained their UEFA Champions League momentum with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home to Israeli counterparts Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.
Les Girondins began their Group A campaign with a creditable 1-1 draw at Italian giants Juventus and coach Laurent Blanc had asserted that their games with Maccabi would be their most important in a group that also contains German heavyweights Bayern Munich.
The French side laboured for long periods against Elisha Levy's well-drilled side before eventually breaking through in the 83rd minute when Michael Ciani leapt highest to convert Gregory Sertic's deep corner. Blanc fielded an attacking line-up, with Argentine striker Fernando Cavenaghi handed his first Champions League start up front alongside last season's top scorer Marouane Chamakh.
Maccabi Haifa went down 3-0 at Bayern Munich in their opening game but they made an assured start at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. Home goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso was forced to deny Eyal Meshumar and Peter Masilela as the visitors raided forward gamely, while Bordeaux talisman Yoann Gourcuff found himself tightly shackled.
An injury to Gourcuff saw him replaced by defensive midfielder Fernando at half-time and the Brazilian quickly sought to impose himself upon the game, threatening three times within 15 minutes of his introduction but failing to find the target on each occasion.
David Bellion, a replacement for Cavenaghi, was foiled by Nir Davidovitch in the visiting goal after being teed up by Chamakh but Maccabi remained dangerous and Carrasso had to thwart Eyal Golasa and Lior Rafaelov in quick succession.
A goalless draw looked the inevitable outcome but with seven minutes remaining Ciani powered home substitute Sertic's centre after Wendel's shot had been turned behind for a corner by Davidovitch. It was a cruel outcome for the visitors, who had Biram Kayal dismissed following a lunge at Benoit Tremoulinas in the game's dying minutes.
"We came to win and not to lose, even lose valiantly," said Levy. "We were up against an extremely strong team. We couldn't have done more. We gave everything."