Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Vidar Orn Kjartansson (right) celebrates with teammate Yossi Benayoun, with the Iceland international scoring twice in last night’s 2-2 draw at Maccabi Haifa.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Vidar Orn Kjartansson’s stoppage-time equalizer snatched a 2-2 draw and a point for Maccabi Tel Aviv at Maccabi Haifa last night, but left the yellow-and-blue eight points back of Hapoel Beersheba ahead of their showdown on Saturday.
Haifa took the lead through Omer Damari in the 11th minute, but the visitors scored a deserved equalizer through Kjartansson in the 66th minute.
The yellow-and-blue dominated the remainder of the match, but Haifa looked to have netted a winner in the 86th minute through substitute Roei Kehat’s header.
Maccabi never gave up though and Kjartansson scored his second goal of the night with a stunning strike into the top right corner in the 91st minute.
“We were very sloppy in the first half. We lost a lot of balls in the midfield which gave Haifa a lot of space,” said Maccabi sports director Jordi Cruyff, who continues to guide the team a month after the sacking of coach Shota Arveladze.
“We showed a lot more character in the second half. Overall, we came with the intention of winning and we didn’t achieve that so that is disappointing.”
Despite dropping two points in the title race, Cruyff still believes the yellow-and- blue can catch reigning champion Beersheba.
“This is a marathon. All the teams will lose points and you just have to get a good run together,” he said.
The visitors got off to the better start, with Haifa goalkeeper Ohad Levita maintaining the deadlock with two sensational saves from Barak Itzhaki attempts.
Haifa took the lead in the 11th minute, catching the yellow-and-blue defense napping on the counter attack. Haifa still led from Damari’s opener at the break, and seemed to be heading for three points following Kehat’s strike, which canceled out Kjartansson’s first equalizer.
But the Iceland striker wouldn’t be denied and the yellow-and-blue at least picked up a confidence-boosting point.