Maccabi Haifa's Taleb Tawatha, Hapoel Haifa's Touvarno Pinas.
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa’s hopes of catching Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Premier League title
race suffered a significant blow on Monday night after it could only manage a
1-1 draw against Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, leaving it 10 points
behind first place.
Despite Tel Aviv’s six consecutive wins, Maccabi
Haifa remained alive in the battle for the championship by winning 12 of its 14
matches prior to the derby. However, it deserved no better than a draw against
Hapoel on Monday, with Weeam Amasha giving Maccabi the lead in the 18th minute
before Ran Abukarat netted a sensational equalizer in the 74th minute with an
unstoppable effort from 20 meters out.
“We had plenty of chances in each
half to clinch the victory and it is a real shame we didn’t manage to do so,”
said Greens coach Arik Benado.
“Obviously, the gap from Maccabi Tel Aviv
is big, but we will play until the very end and hope for the
Hapoel Haifa, which remains in the relegation zone despite the
credible draw, came centimeters away from taking the lead as early as the second
minute, with Guy Tzarfati’s shot skimming the post.
Amasha and Hen Ezra
both squandered opportunities to net the opener for the hosts before Dino Ndlovu
was toppled over in the box by Hapoel’s Oshri Roash, with Amasha stepping up to
slot in the penalty.
Hapoel seemed to have equalized in the 32nd minute,
but referee Daniel Bar Natan determined that Vladimir Gluscevic had fouled
Maccabi ’keeper Bojan Saranov and disallowed the goal.
Both teams had
their chances at the start of the second half, with Eyal Golasa wasting a
particularly good opportunity in the 50th minute, firing straight at ’keeper
Tvrtko Kale after Ezra’s shot came off the crossbar.
clinched the point it deserved in the 74th minute, with Abukarat giving Saranov
no chance with his powerful shot from outside the box.
“We wanted to win
this match first and foremost because it was a derby,” said Haifa captain Yaniv
Katan. “A 10-point gap is significant.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is a good team
and is looking great at the moment, but we will try and focus on our own play.”