maccabi haifa 88.
(photo credit: )
An inspired Maccabi Tel Aviv handed 10-man Maccabi Haifa its second loss of the Premier League season Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium, defeating the visitors 1-0.
In a match that was more about pride than points, Tel Aviv's fighting play was the difference between the teams and after scoring a goal five minutes into the second half, the yellow-and-blue hung on for the win.
The victory was sweet revenge for former Maccabi Haifa legend Eyal Berkovic, who came up against his former team for the first time after being turned away by Haifa last summer.
Berkovic played his best match of the season and delivered the assist on the hosts' winner.
Both teams threw caution to the wind and played attacking soccer for the entire 90 minutes with the one-goal scoreline not doing justice to the entertaining match.
The defending Premier League champions were reduced to 10 men 30 minutes into the match when striker Shlomi Arbitman reacted badly to a tackle by Ophir Haim and elbowed the Tel Aviv striker in the face.
Despite being one-man down, the visitors still dominated play and should have taken the lead in the first half.
Tel Aviv managed to hang on and got the award for its fighting play early in the second half when it scored the winner.
The match began with both teams playing free flowing soccer with attacking soccer clearly on the mind of both teams.
Haifa had the first good chance to score when Arbitman almost ran the entire length of the pitch before putting a ball through to Klemi Saban, whose careless shot went straight at 'keeper Liran Strauber.
In the 30th minute, Haifa found itself with 10 men after Arbitman's bad reaction.
The sending off did not slow down Haifa and seven minutes after the red card only a goal line clearance by Berkovic from a Rafael Olara header saved the yellow-andblue.
Three minutes from the break Boccoli had one more chance to give the greens the lead but the midfielder wasted a good chance and smashed the ball from 10 meters out high above the crossbar.
Five minutes after the interval Tel Aviv got the all-important opener. Berkovic crossed the ball into the box and Ophir Haim headed Tel Aviv into the lead.
Haifa didn't give up and came close several times to snatching an equalizer, but the hosts stood strong and went home with the three points.
Haifa's lead over Hapoel Tel Aviv at the top of the standings remained 14 points, while Maccabi Tel Aviv is still in fifth, seven points behind second place.