Bnei Yehuda forward Yoanatan Cohen (center) celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 victory at Maccabi Haifa. .
(photo credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)
Hap Haifa held by Ashkelon Any illusions Maccabi Haifa’s struggles would end with the departure of head coach Guy Luzon were quickly dispelled with a 2-0 home loss to Bnei Yehuda on Saturday.
Goals by Dan Mori (36) and Yonatan Cohen (51) gave the visitors their fifth win from the past six matches, moving Bnei Yehuda up to fifth place in the standings.
Haifa has won only one of its past eight games and dropped to ninth.
Luzon handed in his resignation following last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Hapoel Ashkelon, with Dutchman Rob Maas, who only began working for the team as an assistant coach last week, taking charge on an interim basis.
Technical director Mo Allach, who has been at the club for just over a month, is still searching for a full-time replacement.
Luzon was at the club for a mere 10 months, joining Haifa in February following the sacking of Rene Meulensteen.
Seven different coaches have guided the Greens since the start of the 2012/13 season, with Reuven Atar, Aleksandar Stanojevic, Meulensteen and Luzon all lasting less than 10 months.
“You are disappointed when you lose but I also saw a lot of good things,” said Maas. “The first thing is that the players worked as a team. I saw a lot of qualities and if we combine it with hard work we will do well.”
Hapoel Haifa squandered an opportunity to return to first place for at least 24 hours, drawing 0-0 at Hapoel Ashkelon. Haifa has lost just one game this season, but has lost ground over recent weeks, winning only one of its past five matches.
A late Firas Migrabi brace gave Bnei Sakhnin a dramatic 2-1 win over Hapoel Acre on Saturday. Gabi Kanikovski netted the opener for Acre in the 24th minute, but Mugrabi equalized eight minutes from time and scored from the spot in the 90th minute after a contentious penalty call.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Ashdod SC drew 1-1. Petah Tikva midfielder Richard Soumah broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute, with Dean David (76) equalizing for Ashdod.
Hapoel Beersheba can increase its lead at the summit of the standings to four points when it visits Maccabi Netanya on Sunday.
Beersheba is aiming to bounce back from Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Toto Cup final, ending its hopes of claiming the local treble.
The two-time reigning champion will have to once more manage without arguably its two best players, Portuguese defender Miguel Vitor and Nigerian forward Anthony Nawkaeme.
“Maccabi wanted to win more than we did and that is a shame,” said Beersheba striker Ben Sahar, whose team has picked up 29 of a possible 33 points from its last 11 league matches, winning nine and drawing two. “The league is our bread and butter.”
Also Sunday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Hapoel Ra’anana.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv looks to kick-start its league campaign when it visits Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.
Tel Aviv has drawn its past three league games and coach Jordi Cruyff is hoping the Toto Cup triumph will prove to be a turning point in the yellow-and-blue’s season.
“I think it will give confidence to the players and it’s a signal to the players what you can do if you play with intensity and toughness,” explained Cruyff. “If you don’t show enough effort you won’t win games. I’m happy with the effort and the players have to understand that they have to give 200 percent in every match.”