Yaniv Katan Maccabi Haifa_311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa returned to the top of the Premier League in impressive fashion on Monday night, defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium for its fifth straight win.
Despite playing far from inspiring soccer so far this season, Haifa entered this weekend’s matches in first place.
Coach Elisha Levy kept on saying that it was only a matter of time until his team’s performance would catch up with its results, and on Monday he finally got what he was hoping for.
Haifa opened a 2-0 lead by the break and showed exactly what it is capable of with a commanding performance against what is supposed to be one of its main rivals for the title.
“This was our best match of the season so far,” Levy said. “We played like a team and won the match first and foremost thanks to our determination. We worked hard and played with confidence and claimed a big win over Tel Aviv.”
The yellow-and-blue went on a wild spending spree to build a championships caliber squad, but in four matches so far against the three other top-four teams, it has lost all four times, failing to even score a single goal.
“If we play like this there is no way we will win the championship,” said Tel Aviv coach Yossi Mizrahi, whose team is now six points adrift of secondplaced Hapoel Tel Aviv.
“If we don’t lift our level of play and dominate our opponents we won’t be able to win.”
The hosts were the more dangerous side from the start and almost immediately created scoring opportunities.
The visitors eventually worked their way into the match and found the back of the net in the 19th minute, but Roberto Colautti’s header was disallowed after the referee’s assistant ruled the ball had crossed the byline.
Tel Aviv should have scored a legal goal two minutes later, but after clearing goalkeeper Nir Davidovich, midfielder Maor Buzaglo was blocked by his teammate Dimitar Rangelov and couldn’t even register an attempt on goal.
As expected, the visitors would live to rue their missed chances, with Haifa taking the lead in the 33rd minute.
Taleb Tawatha was left unmarked and beat Liran Strauber from a tight angle after the Tel Aviv defense failed to clear Eyal Meshumar’s cross.
The hosts were spurred on by the opener and a minute after having his shot from the edge of the area denied by Strauber, Golasa got the goal he deserved.
Tomer Hemed sent the midfielder through on goal and Golasa coolly rounded the ’keeper to slot in Haifa’s second.
The Greens were far from content with their significant lead and went in
search of a third goal right from the start of the second half.
The visitors were fortunate Haifa defender Ignacio Canuto didn’t make
the most of a couple of promising chances, but their luck ran out in the
Valdimir Dvalishvili took advantage of Savo Pavicevic’s lax defending
and beat Strauber with a relatively weak effort to secure Haifa’s
The third goal would completely take the wind out of Tel Aviv’s sails
and Haifa cruised to one of its easiest wins of the season against one
of its fiercest rivals.