Maccabi Haifa defender Ernest Mabouka (left) and Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Eliran Atar battle for the ball during last night’s 0-0 draw in Netanya. .
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will wonder how it didn’t leave Netanya with three points on Sunday night, being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Maccabi Haifa despite dominating the affair.
Tel Aviv was targeting its fourth straight Premier League win and more than deserved it on the back of its dominant first-half display. But the yellow-and-blue couldn’t find the back of the net and its cause suffered a significant blow when Tal Ben-Haim was sent off one minute from the break.
Haifa did little with its one-man advantage and the hosts were closer to the breakthrough in the second half. But the goalless deadlock wouldn’t be broken, even after Haifa lost defender Omri Ben-Harush to a red card 10 minutes from time.
The draw moved Tel Aviv level with Beitar Jerusalem in second place, one point back of leader Hapoel Haifa.
Beitar can climb to the summit with a draw or a win against Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium on Monday night.
Maccabi came centimeters away from taking the lead in the 12th minute, with Sheran Yeini’s header from a corner only being stopped by the post. The yellowand- blue completely dominated proceedings and was only denied the opener in the 18th minute by an acrobatic save by Haifa goalkeeper Omri Glazer, who did well to keep out Omer Atzili’s rocket.
The hosts continued to run circles around Haifa and it was yet again the woodwork that denied them the opener in the 22nd minute. Eliran Atar came tantilizingly close to scoring against the team he left last month when his shot came off the post.
Haifa just wanted to maintain the goalless deadlock until the break, but it got more than it had hoped for when Tel Aviv defender Ben-Haim recklessly lost the ball to Nikita Rukavytsya and then tripped him, preventing a clear shot at goal and earning himself a straight red card from referee Alon Yeffet.
Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff was also soon given his marching orders for protesting the decision, bringing about a few moments of confusion on the yellowand- blue bench.
Cruyff went into the stands where coaching consultant Steve McClaren was seated and told the former England manager to replace him on the bench. However, McClaren was soon told to return to his previous seat as Maccabi hadn’t registered him as part of its coaching staff for the match.
Despite being handed a major boost with Ben-Haim’s sending off, Haifa struggled to create chances and it lost its one-man advantage with 10 minutes to play. Former Tel Aviv defender Ben-Harush was shown his second yellow card for fouling Atzili.
The hosts had one more excellent chance to decide the match four minutes from time, but Atar’s shot was kept out by Glazer’s outreached leg and Haifa survived.
Earlier Sunday, Sharon Mimer got life as the coach of Maccabi Petah Tikva off to a winning start. Petah Tikva beat Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 courtesy of Yuval Avidor’s 57th-minute winner, snapping a threematch losing streak that brought about Kobi Refua’s resignation last week.