Hapoel Haifa striker Eden Ben-Basat hopes he will be still smiling after the league-leader’s road encounter at Ashdod SC on Saturday..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Hapoel Haifa closed to within just four points of the Premier League summit after defeating Maccabi Netanya 2-0 on Sunday night. Haifa’s unlikely title hopes looked to be over after it began 2018 by picking up only a single point from three matches.
But with the rest of the challengers all dropping points over recent weeks, Haifa is back in the picture, winning for the third time in its past four matches thanks to goals from Gili Vermouth (28) and Alon Turgeman (54).
Netanya remained in fifth place.
Haifa is still in fourth, but moved tied on 46 points with Beitar Jerusalem, which hosts Bnei Yehuda on Monday in front of empty stands at Teddy Stadium after being punished by the Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court for the unruly behavior of its fans.
Beersheba has 50 points, with Maccabi Tel Aviv in second place on 48.
Haifa visits Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday and coach Nir Klinger is hoping his team can make a real statement.
“We are still hanging on the coattails and I hope that we can put a stamp on the title race soon, maybe in next week’s match against Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said a delighted Klinger.
Elsewhere Sunday, Messay Dego’s debut as the coach of Hapoel Ashkelon didn’t go as he had hoped, with Ashkelon losing 1-0 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona. Milos Radivojevic scored the only goal of the match in the 81st minute.
Dego replaced Yuval Naim last week after Ashkelon had won only one of its previous 17 matches. However, the coaching change didn’t bear any fruits on Sunday, with Ashkelon suffering its sixth straight loss and remaining four points behind Ashdod SC and safety.