Eliran Atar and Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Apoula Edel.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv twice came back from a goal down to claim a 2-2 draw against Maccabi Haifa in Premier League action at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night.
However, both teams were ultimately disappointed with the single point, which left Hapoel only four points above the relegation zone, with Maccabi Haifa just two points further in front.
While Monday’s match was a showdown between two of the league’s most disappointing teams this season, it proved to be an entertaining affair, with Hapoel’s strikes both possible candidates for goal of the season.
After Eliran Atar gave Haifa the lead in the 28th minute, making the most of Avraham Chekol’s poor back-pass, Shlomi Azulay leveled the score nine minutes later, turning on the edge of the box and sending a superb shot into the top left corner.
Atar made it three goals in the past two matches when he scored from close range seven minutes into the second half, only for Ben Reichert to equalize with a sensational volley from 20 meters out in the 72nd minute.
Both teams had chances to win the match, but had to settle for a point, which leaves them in a precarious position.
“I end this game with mixed emotions,” said Hapoel coach Eli Cohen.
“Both teams put on a show, but I would rather play ugly soccer and finish with three points.”
Haifa coach Marco Balbul admitted his team didn’t deserve more than one point.
“We started the match well but we sat back afterwards,” he explained.
“That wasn’t what we planned. We wanted to dictate the pace but we didn’t do that and we could have also lost this match.”
Elsewhere, Maccabi Netanya players boycotted Monday’s training session and met with Israel Football Association chiefs due to their club’s financial crisis which has left them still waiting to be paid since the start of December.
The departure of owner Eli Segev late last year left the club in a dire economic situation and the players demanded to know why the Israel Football Association’s Budget Control Authority hadn’t planned for such a scenario.
The players were promised once more that the IFA was doing its best to solve the problem, but yet again received no assurances.
Despite playing without pay for almost three months, Netanya players have impressed on the field in recent weeks, continuing their surge up the standings with a 4-2 win over Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday.