Maccabi Haifa 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa opened a fivepoint margin at the top of the Premier League standings on Monday night, defeating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 on the road.
Yaniv Katan scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 78th minute, and despite its unconvincing form, Haifa has now won four of its last five matches and has opened a gap from its chasers.
Defending-champion Hapoel Tel Aviv can close to within two points of the Greens with a win over Bnei Yehuda on Wednesday, in a repeat of the match which was called off at halftime because of a water-logged pitch on Sunday.
The match at Kiryat Shmona was in doubt for much of the day due to the recent downpour.
However, the rain subsided in the hours leading up to the game, and the many locals who came out to watch the match in the cold weather were rewarded with a fast start.
The hosts almost took the lead within the first three minutes, with Tomer Bruks’s cross confusing everyone and eventually only being denied by the upright.
Haifa replied immediately, with Vldimir Dvalishvili shooting towards ’keeper Danny Amos.
Kiryat Shmona had the better of the first half possession and should have taken the lead in the 33rd minute.
Ofir Hemo only had ’keeper Nir Davidovich to beat after a Lior Rafaelov
mistake, but the Kiryat Shmona defender shot straight at the Haifa
The visitors seized control of the encounter at the start of the second
half and Amos was being called into action more and more.
In the 60th minute, Rafaelov had all the time in the world and only Amos
to beat, but his finish was poor and the hosts were spared.
The breakthrough would finally come in the 78th minute.
Substitute Mohammad Ghadir was brought down in the box by Amos, and
Katan stepped up to slot in the winner from the penalty spot and give
Haifa all three points.