Hapoel Ra’anana goalkeeper Arik Yanko and Maccabi Haifa striker Weeam Amasha (right)..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Maccabi Haifa coach Aleksandar Stanojevic admitted on Saturday that his team is in a crisis after dropping to a third defeat in five Premier League matches, a 2-0 loss to Hapoel Ra’anana at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Haifa entered the match on the back of a 3-1 setback at Maccabi Tel Aviv, but was nevertheless confident of making it three wins from three home games at its new state-of-the-art stadium.
However, a listless performance saw the Greens suffer yet another defeat, with Evans Kangwa giving Ra’anana the lead in the 13th minute and Anthony Nwakaeme scoring for a third straight match to double the advantage seven minutes into the second half.
Haifa lacked ideas and impetus and rarely threatened Ra’anana’s goal, leaving Stanojevic to wonder where everything had gone wrong.
“This is a crisis,” he admitted. “We deserved to lose today. We started very well, but we lost confidence after conceding goals and played very badly. I don’t know why they lost confidence. Maybe it is difficult for them to play under pressure. We are disappointed with everything. We are in a problem now and we will try to solve this problem. We know what we have to do.”
Stanojevic won’t have long to lift his players, with Haifa already facing a daunting visit to Hapoel Beersheba on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Ironi Kiryat Shmona extended its winning streak to four matches and secured another week in first position thanks to a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Haifa. Beersheba remained within striking distance of the top with a 4-0 thrashing of Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Kiryat Shmona was far from convincing, but eked out three more points after keeping its fourth clean sheet in five matches this season.
Kiryat Shmona has conceded just one goal to date, improving to 13 points out of a possible 15 on Saturday thanks to Ofir Mizrahi’s 68th-minute winner.
Beersheba was desperate for a win after last week’s 1-1 draw against Ra’anana and it was given a helping hand by referee Erez Pappir on the stroke of halftime. Pappir inexplicably awarded Beersheba a penalty after deeming that Petah Tikva’s Daniel Dimov handled the ball in the box. However, not only did the ball not come off Dimov’s hand, but the contact with his shoulder took place outside of the box.
Dovev Gabay, who missed a spot kick last week, made the most of the gift, converting the penalty in first-half stoppage time. Life was a lot easier for Beersheba after that, with the visitors scoring three times in six second-half minutes to complete the rout.
Substitute Roei Gordana began the blitz in the 68th minute before Maor Buzaglo found the back of the net two minutes later. Shlomi Arbeitman scored his first goal for the club since returning in the summer in the 73rd minute, firing in a penalty after Buzaglo was brought down in the box.
“We were more balanced than previous matches and killed off the game,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We are improving and I’m happy we overcame this tricky match.”
Maccabi Netanya finally claimed its first victory of the season on Saturday, beating Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 thanks to Idan Shriki’s stoppage-time winner. Cristian Sarghi put Netanya in front in the 23rd minute, but the hosts looked to have dropped more points following Shimon Harush’s owngoal six minutes from time. However, Shriki’s free kick in the sixth minute of stoppage time gave Netanya all three points and lifted it off the bottom of the standings.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Petah Tikva beat Ashdod SC 3-1 on the road. An Alexander Davidov own-goal gave Petah Tikva a ninth-minute lead, with Ashdod’s Hatem El-Hamid and Petah Tikva’s Lior Asulin being sent off after clashing in the 64th minute. Sagiv Cohen doubled the advantage in the 87th minute, with David Solari (91) scoring for Ashdod from the penalty spot before Hasan Abu Zaid (94) netted Petah Tikva’s third goal.
Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Hapoel Acre in Netanya on Sunday, with Hapoel Tel Aviv hosting Beitar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday.