Maccabi Haifa closed to within just five points of the Premier League summit on
Sunday night, defeating Hapoel Ramat Gan 3-0 at the National Stadium for its
fourth straight victory and eighth in the past nine matches.
clinched all three points with ease, taking a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute and
cruising for the remainder of the encounter.
Two months after trailing
Maccabi Tel Aviv in first place by 14 points, Haifa’s sensational run under
coach Arik Benado has brought it within striking distance of the top, although
Hapoel Tel Aviv could move up to first place, six points ahead of the Greens,
with a victory over Betar Jerusalem on Monday.
Ramat Gan had the better
of the early possession on Sunday, but it was Haifa which broke the deadlock in
the 18th minute, with Hen Ezra doing all the hard work down the right flank and
his cross eventually falling to Weeam Amasha’s feet for an easy close-range
Taleb Tawatha doubled Haifa’s advantage 10 minutes later, racing
through Ramat Gan’s defense and firing past ‘keeper Itay Arkin.
Azulai scored the third goal of the night in the 70th minute, surely setting a
local record by finding the back of net with his first touch of the ball exactly
12 seconds after entering the match from the bench.
“We didn’t play a
great game, but we did what we needed to take the three points,” said Benado,
whose team hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv next Sunday.
“We scored the goals at the
right time and controlled the match. Hapoel is a quality side, but so are we and
we will be coming to win the game.”