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Israel's Maccabi Haifa beat Red Star Belgrade in Champions League playoff

JERUSALEM, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa achieved a 3-2 home win over Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League playoff on Wednesday evening.

The second leg will be played on Tuesday in Belgrade, and the aggregate winner will qualify for the Champions League group stage.

About 30,000 fans at Sammy Ofer Stadium in the northern city of Haifa saw the home team dominate in the opening minutes and score in the 18th minute through Haitian striker Frantzdy Pierrot, after a cross by Dolev Haziza.

Red Star recovered quickly, and evened the score in the 27th minute, after a shot by midfielder Aleksandar Katai hit his teammate Aleksandar Pesic and confused goalkeeper Josh Cohen on the way to the net.

The visiting team completed a turnover in the 40th minute from an accurate shot by Gabonese midfielder Guelor Kanga, after a pass by Ghanaian winger Osman Bukari.

The home team equalized in the 51st minute, with a shot by Pierrot who completed a brace, again after a pass by Haziza.

Haziza also set up Haifa's third goal in the 61st minute, with a pass to Surinamese midfielder Tjaronn Chery, who scored impressively from 18 meters.