Greens fight back at home to deny Mac TA

The winner arrived six minutes later, with much-maligned left-back Taleb Tawatha heading beyond Levy from Yaniv Katan’s corner.

January 23, 2012 23:55
2 minute read.
MACCABI HAIFA defender Taleb Tawatha (Top)

MACCABI HAIFA defender Taleb Tawatha (Top)_150. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

Maccabi Haifa snapped its five-match winless streak in dramatic fashion on Monday night, scoring twice in the last six minutes to record a sweet 2-1 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.

The reigning champion, which lost any hope of retaining its Premier League title long ago, seemed to be heading to a first home loss to its yellow-and-blue arch-rival in almost eight years after Roberto Colautti gave Tel Aviv the lead with a header with the match less than three minutes old.Tel Aviv could have increased its lead before the break, but Haifa seized control of the encounter in the second half and got its due reward just when it looked that its wretched campaign was about to get worse.

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Substitute Idan Vered equalized in the 84th minute after ‘keeper Barak Levy parried Shoval Gozlan’s shot straight into his path.

The winner arrived six minutes later, with much-maligned left-back Taleb Tawatha heading beyond Levy from Yaniv Katan’s corner.

The win lifts Haifa up to eighth place with 31 points, still 20 points back of leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona.

Tel Aviv remains in fifth, two points ahead of Haifa.

On Tuesday, the first trophy of the 2011/12 soccer season will be handed out when Kiryat Shmona faces Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Toto Cup final at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.

Kiryat Shmona claimed its first ever title when it won the Toto Cup last season, which in retrospect may have been a sign of things to come considering the northerners are now firm favorites to take an historic Premier League championship, currently leading the standings by 11 points.

Ran Ben-Shimon’s team has won 10 of its last 11 league matches and comes up against a floundering Hapoel side, despite Tel Aviv’s 7-3 win over Maccabi Netanya on Saturday.

The Reds have won just two of their last eight games and their fans are expected to continue their relentless protest against owner Eli Tabib in Tuesday’s final.

“Our club has suffered from many shocks in recent weeks,” said coach Nitzan Shirazi, who joined the team less than two weeks ago following the surprising sacking of Dror Kashtan.

“However, I keep telling the players that once the referee blows his whistle to start the match we no longer care about what is happening off the pitch and must focus on the match itself.”

Ben-Shimon is expecting an open game and doesn’t believe his team will be entering the final as the favorite despite its 12-point gap over Hapoel in the league standings.

“There is no connection between what is happening in the league and the Toto Cup,” Ben-Shimon said.

“This will be a tight match between two good teams and there are no favorites.”

The winner of the final will take home NIS 1,250,000 in prize money, 300,000 more than the losing finalist.

In other soccer news, Ashdod SC owner Jacky Ben-Zaken confirmed on Monday that Manchester City has made an offer for midfielder Nir Biton.

The 20-year-old underwent a weeklong trial in Manchester earlier this month and must have impressed the Premier League leader as it has offered to loan Biton until the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent in the summer.

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