Maccabi Haifa reignited its Premier League championship dreams on Monday night,
defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium for its fourth
Haifa was in danger of battling against relegation
when Reuven Atar was sacked just one month ago, but the Greens have won all four
of their matches since new coach Arik Benado took charge on a full-time basis
and closed to within nine points of league leader Hapoel Tel Aviv on
Maccabi Tel Aviv would have leapfrogged the Reds into first place
had it avoided defeat at Kiryat Eliezer, but the yellow-and-blue was mediocre
once more and its title challenge suffered a significant blow with its fourth
defeat of the season on Monday.
“This is a very important win for us,”
said Benado, who saw his team collect all three points thanks to Weeam Amasha’s
“We played smart soccer and were tactically sound.
Tel Aviv barely reached any chances. I’m very proud of this display. We have
taken just one more step tonight, but we are moving in the right
Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia was understandably
“I think it was a balanced game, but they had the luck to
score,” Oscar said.
“We have to improve our defense in set pieces. We
will continue to try and improve. I don’t care for the table now.
care with 6-7 games to play.”
Tel Aviv seemed content to settle for a
point from the start, challenging Haifa to break through its defensive
The Greens rarely managed to do so, with Gustavo Boccoli
registering Haifa’s first real chance in the 22nd minute, forcing ‘keeper
Vincent Enyeama to make a difficult save.
The veteran midfielder came
centimeters from netting the opener seven minutes from halftime, surging into
the box before beating Enyeama with his shot, only to see the ball come off the
Haifa goalkeeper Bojan Saranov was out of work for much of the
night, but he had to be alert to keep out Maharan Radi’s effort in the 41st
Neither team showed much enterprise in the second half, but a
crucial defensive lapse by Tel Aviv gifted Haifa all three points in the 80th
The yellow-and-blue defense failed miserably in its attempt to
clear Hen Ezra’s corner and Amasha tucked in the winner from the
Tel Aviv threw everyone forward in search of an equalizer and
almost got it in the fourth minute of stoppage time, only for Saranov to come up
with a clutch save from Gael Marguelis’s close-range effort.
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