Haifa steamrolls Hap TA to climb to 2nd

January 28, 2013 01:24

While Haifa’s relentless surge is showing no signs of slowing down, Hapoel has lost its way in the past couple of months.

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MACCABI HAIFA defender Edin Cocalic had every reason to celebrate.

Edin Cocalic . (photo credit:Asaf Kliger)

Maccabi Haifa staked its claim as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s main challenger for the Premier League championship on Sunday night, making a statement by crushing Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium to leapfrog the Reds into second place.

A Dekel Keinan first-half brace (14, 34) put the Greens in the driving seat and Alon Turgeman wrapped up the scoring in the 56th minute to clinch Haifa’s ninth win in its past 10 matches, with Arik Benado’s men outscoring their opponents 22-3 in that stretch.

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“We are a heading in the right direction to win the championship,” said Benado after his team closed back to within five points of leagueleader Maccabi Tel Aviv. “We played really well. We were superior to Hapoel in every facet of the game and deserved to win. We are improving with every match and I think this team still has plenty of unfulfilled potential.”

While Haifa’s relentless surge is showing no signs of slowing down, Hapoel has lost its way in the past couple of months and dropped to third place on goal difference on Sunday.

The Reds have won just two of their past eight matches and are in danger of losing touch in the title race if they don’t record a significant improvement soon.

“We played well in the first 14 minutes, but then conceded two goals from set-pieces and they were in complete control after that,” said Hapoel’s downcast coach Yossi Abuksis.

Keinan headed in Haifa’s opener from a Yaniv Katan corner after 14 minutes and the defender scored with another header 20 minutes later, netting two goals in a match for the first time in his Premier League career.

Turgeman poured salt on Hapoel’s wounds in the 56th minute and Haifa fans spent the remainder of the match singing the praises of their players.

“It would be unwise for us to talk about winning the championship at the moment,” said Keinan. “We want to remain the underdog and prove we deserve to win the title on the pitch.”

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