anti-Semitic Iranian cartoon 150.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
After seven straight defeats, a spirited fight-back by Ahi Nazareth on Saturday afternoon gave John Gregory's men a valuable 3-3 draw against Maccabi Tel Aviv and left Avi Nimni ruing yet more dropped points in his quest for a European place.
Elsewhere, a second-half strike by the on-form Toto Tamuz handed Betar Jerusalem a 1-0 win against tenacious Hapoel Ramat Gan at Teddy Stadium, while Bulgarian striker Dimitar Makriev missed a penalty for Ashdod as Yossi Mizrahi's side could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Bnei Sakhnin.
Meanwhile, nine-man Maccabi Netanya managed to extend its three-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory at home to Hapoel Petah Tivka thanks to a second-half goal by Shalev Menashe, who, along with 'keeper Aristide Zogbo, saw red for Reuven Atar's team.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa captain Eyal Tartazky got an 85th-minute winner in a topsy-turvy 3-2 win at Hapoel Beersheba, while Omri Elmakayes gave Hapoel Acre a win by the same score-line away at struggling Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Maccabi Ahi Nazareth 3, Maccabi Tel Aviv 3
A jubilant John Gregory hailed his players for a "great achievement" against the "mighty Maccabi Tel Aviv," calling his side's opponents in the action-packed match at Ilut Stadium "the Manchester United of Israeli soccer."
"Nobody expected us to get anything from the game today," said the Englishman. "We're just little old Nazareth."
And few would begrudge Gregory's men for getting a crucial point and moving off the bottom of the table, which, after a brave comeback, was no more than they deserved.
Tel Aviv made a magnificent start to the game, taking the lead after just six minutes. Ronny Gafney floated in a great cross from the left and Guillermo Yisraelevich, the shortest man on the pitch, rose majestically to plant a neat header into the corner.
Seven minutes later it was all square.
Congolese striker Tcham N'Toya flicked the ball through to Tomer Hemed, who simply pummeled it into the corner beyond the flailing dive of Liran Strauber to give Gregory his first goal since joining the club some two weeks ago.
Tel Aviv soon regained the lead when Serbian Ivica Iliev twisted and turned on the left before chipping a great ball to the far post, where Yossi Shivhon had the simple task of nodding it past the helpless Gil Ofek.
Nimni's men made it 3-1 nine minutes before the break, with Iliev curling a superb free-kick past the unsighted Ofek, whose positioning was suspect to say the least.
Four minutes into the second half, Gregory's men were right back in the game. Shlomi Hanuka whipped in a wonderful cross from the right and Yaniv Luzon met the ball first time at the far post to slot it under Strauber.
Moments later, the nerves really began to jangle for Tel Aviv when the excellent Iliev idiotically got himself sent off for elbowing Hadiya in the face.
And Nazareth got the goal its subsequent probing deserved seven minutes from time when the backpedaling Nisso Kapiloto, under no real pressure, headed the ball into his own net.
Nazareth went down to 10 men five minutes from time when Muhammed Amriya picked up a second yellow card for a rather innocuous challenge on Shivhon.
The drama went on right until the death as both sides came close to grabbing all three points, but neither team could pierce the net and the clubs ended up settling for the draw.