The Premier League season is just two matches old, but the alarm bells are
already ringing at Maccabi Haifa after Reuven Atar’s nightmare start to his
tenure as coach continued with a second straight defeat, this time a 3-1 home
loss to Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Haifa showed some
promising signs in its 2-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv last Monday, but it
defensive vulnerabilities were exposed for all to see and Kiryat Shmona made the
most of its opportunities, scoring three of its six shots on goal, while Haifa
only converted one of 19.
The Greens were well placed at the break after
Dino Ndlovo’s 19th-minute opener, but Kiryat Shmona rode its luck and remained
in the match thanks to goalkeeper Danny Amos’s heroics before completing a
comeback in the second half.
After advancing towards Haifa’s box
unchallenged, Darko Tasevski found the bottom right corner with a left-footed
bullet from 20 meters out to equalize in the 53rd minute and the reigning
champion clinched the win with two late goals.
Laszlo Lencse coolly
slotted in a penalty in the 75th minute after Taleb Tawatha brought down Elad
Gabai and Haifa’s shambolic defense allowed Ahmed Abed to secure Kiryat Shmona’s
second consecutive win nine minutes from time.
“We played well, but
missed our chances and after they equalized we lost our patience,” said a
disappointed Atar, who is looking forward to the upcoming international break to
lift his team.
“We will keep our heads held high and find a way to stop
this losing streak.”
Kiryat Shmona coach Gili Landau was delighted with
his team’s win, especially considering it was playing its fourth match in 11
days after being knocked out in the Champions League playoffs last
“We were Dr. Jekyll in the first half and Mr. Hyde in the second,”
“We are still not playing at our best and there’s plenty of
room for improvement, but we are going home content.”
Ashdod SC leads
Kiryat Shmona on goal difference at the top of the standings after beating Bnei
Sakhnin 3-1 on the road for its second straight win.
The Sakhnin defense
couldn’t cope with David Revivo’s free kick in the 24th minute and Ashsod
clinched the win by the break with Dimitar Makriev scoring twice (27, 39) in his
return to the club.
Mohammed Kalibat netted a consolation for the hosts
in the 47th minute, but Ashdod had little trouble holding on for another
Betar Jerusalem picked up its first point of the season on Saturday,
drawing 1-1 with Hapoel Beersheba at Teddy Stadium.
Eli Dasa scored a
sensational opener for Betar with his left foot after cutting into the box from
the right flank five minutes from the break, but Tomer Swisa gave Beersheba a
deserved point with a clinical finish in the 52nd minute.
Bnei Yehuda and
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon picked up their first wins of 2011/12 on
Pedro Galvan scored Bnei Yehuda’s winner in the 77th minute of
its match against Hapoel Ramat Gan, while Ran Itzhak (25), Hristijan Kirovski
(66) and Savity Lipenia (73) canceled out Ohad Kadusi’s (20) opener to give
Ramat Hasharon a 3-1 home win over Hapoel Acre.
On Sunday, Hapoel Tel
Aviv hosts Hapoel Acre, while Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Maccabi Netanya on Monday.