Maccabi Haifa 1, Norwich City 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City slipped to their first pre-season defeat with a 1-0 friendly loss against Maccabi Haifa on Monday night in the opening game of the club's Alpine tour.
Alon Turgeman lashed past Declan Rudd in the first half of a contest played in sweltering temperatures in the Austria town of Kufstein.
City had plenty of possession and pinned the Israelis back for long spells in the second period without being able to beat Vladimir Stojkovic.
Nathan Redmond made his first appearance of the pre-season after an extended break following his England Under-21s duty.
Seb Bassong returned after a tight hamstring saw him miss the Cambridge United friendly to partner Ryan Bennett at the back. Elliott Bennett and Bradley Johnson were the full backs with Jonny Howson also restored to the midfield after his viral infection. Tony Andreu was deployed as the chief support to Gary Hooper and Gary O'Neil captained the side against his former West Ham team mate Yossi Benayoun, who led out Haifa.
Neil underlined City's step up in their pre-season planning with the manager naming only six substitutes – which included Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Russell Martin and the rest of the touring party settled for a watching brief ahead of involvement against FC Augsburg on Saturday.
Johnson hammered wide in the seventh minute after sharp interplay down the Norwich right, but Haifa underlined their threat with Bennett's last-ditch block foiling Turgeman.
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Rudd was out to smother Turgeman in the 15th minute with the Haifa front player's pace causing City's backline one or two anxious moments.
Graham Dorrans' delivery on set pieces forced Haifa deeper with Bassong denied by Taleb Tawatha before the central defender miscued a free header from the Scot's corner.
Rudd was again pressed into service after a much-needed drinks break in the heat to foil Hen Ezra before Redmond picked out Howson who tamely struck at Vladimir Stojkovic.
Haifa opened the scoring in the 39th minute when Turgeman lashed a first-time right-footed shot beyond Rudd from just inside the Norwich penalty area.
Neil made three changes at the break,deep with van Wolfswinkel replacing Hooper, Michael Turner on for Bassong and Vadis Odjidja introduced for Redmond.
City looked much more aggressive in their pressing on the restart with Neil urging his men to pin Haifa deep inside their own third.
Norwich went close twice in the space of seconds in the 58th minute when Odjidja and then Andreu both had fearsome goalbound efforts cleared by the Israeli defence from Dorrans' initial free kick.
Dorrans surged forward approaching the final quarter but his cut-back arrowing towards van Wolfswinkel in the six-yard-box was cut out by a sliding challenge from Tawatha before O'Neil curled the follow-up over.
Neil implored Murphy to commit his full-back and the wide player responded in the 79th minute with a low cross that just evaded van Wolfswinkel.
Murphy then linked with Andreu before cutting back inside on his right but Stojkovic shovelled the strike away.
City's Dutch striker guided another Murphy salvo wide at the near post with the youngster now a constant threat.
Toffolo was the latest to surge forward down the Norwich left before van Wolfswinkel's rolled pass was too tempting for Andreu who clubbed wide as Dorrans begged for a pass.
Odjidja barrelled his way through but crack a left-footed half-volley over from 16 yards with time rapidly running out.
• Maccabi Haifa: Stojkovic, Meshumar (Guihoata 66), Kienan, Ogani, Tawtha (Menachem 74), Benayoun (Raiyan 57), Drincic, Yadin (Jabir 57), Ezra, Turgeman (Gozlan 68), Shechter (Atar 61). Subs (not used): Lewis, Levita, Yossipovich, Habashi, Biton.
• Booking: Drincic (foul on O'Neil, 83)
• Goal: Turgeman (39)
• Norwich City: Rudd, E Bennett, R Bennett, Bassong (Turner 45), Johnson (Toffolo 61), O'Neil, Redmond (Odjidja 45), Dorrans, Andreu, Howson (Jacob Murphy 61), Hooper (van Wolfswinkel 45). Sub (not used): Ruddy.