maccabi netanya 88.
(photo credit: )
Just when Maccabi Haifa appeared to be back on track, Roni Levy's side's title aspirations were dealt a significant blow, when the Greens were beaten 2-1 by Maccabi Netanya at "The Box" on Saturday evening.
Brazilian Gustavo Boccoli turned from hero to fall guy for Haifa. The striker scored for the visitors just after the half hour mark to take the lead, but Netanya equalized in the 72nd minute and five minutes later Boccoli gave away a penalty which Sebastian Rozenthal slotted past Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch to grab all three points.
Before this weekend Haifa had won three straight league games, after losing the first three of the season and had hoped to put pressure on Betar Jerusalem at the top of the table, but now is in sixth position, seven points off the top.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin kept its hold on third place with a 1-0 win at Maccabi Herzliya, Ironi Kiryat Shmona was held 2-2 by Hapoel Kfar Saba and Bnei Yehuda was beaten 1-0 by Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which lost 2-0 in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, plays Ashdod SC on Monday to round off this weekend's round of league games.
Maccabi Netanya 2,
Maccabi Haifa 1
With 20 minutes left of Saturday's highly charged match Haifa was leading 1-0 and looked set to win its fourth league match in a row.
It had been a fast-paced game from the kickoff, with both teams having a number of chances to take the lead in the opening period. Itai Shechter and Dela Yampulsky proved a constant threat for Netanya, while Boccoli was dangerous for the visitors.
The deadlock was broken on 31 minutes. Boccoli lobbed Netanya 'keeper Liran Strauber with a looping header from the edge of penalty area, which flew into the back of the net.
The second half had little of the excitement of the first until Dedi Ben-Dayan equalized for Netanya after 72 minutes, turning the Haifa defense inside out and unleashing a powerful shot which Davidovitch could not stop.
Five minutes later Boccoli fouled George Ba in the area and substitute Rozenthal scored with a deftly taken penalty.
Haifa piled on the pressure after the goal, but Strauber made a number of last-gasp saves to deny the visitors.
Bnei Sakhnin 1,
Maccabi Herzliya 0
Sakhnin took the lead in the 16th minute through Ilya Yavruyan, who scored with a wonderfully taken lob over Herzliya goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan from just inside the penalty area.
The visitors had a number of chances to make it two, with Sakhnin golden boy Maor Buzaglo coming close in both halves.
Herzliya had a perfect chance to equalize in the 92nd minute, when Sakhnin's Polish midfielder Lulasz Surma handled in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. But Omer Boksenboim's penalty was an embarrassingly weak effort and Sakhnin goalkeeper Meir Cohen saved it easily.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2,
Hapoel Kfar Saba 2
Yero Belo took the lead for Kiryat Shmona after 21 minutes and it stayed at 1-0 until the 63rd minute when Kfar Saba equalized through Lira.
Guillermo Israilevich took the lead for Kfar Saba on 73 minutes but Kiryat Shmona levelled the scores with 10 minutes left and the two teams shared the points.
Maccabi Petah Tikva 1, Bnei Yehuda 0
Nigerian Felix Abuka scored the only goal of the game for visiting Petah Tikva, handing Bnei Yehuda its second defeat in a row with goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba suspended.