Edin Cocalic .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa staked its claim as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s main challenger for the
Premier League championship on Sunday night, making a statement by crushing
Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium to leapfrog the Reds into second
A Dekel Keinan first-half brace (14, 34) put the Greens in the
driving seat and Alon Turgeman wrapped up the scoring in the 56th minute to
clinch Haifa’s ninth win in its past 10 matches, with Arik Benado’s men
outscoring their opponents 22-3 in that stretch.
“We are a heading in the
right direction to win the championship,” said Benado after his team closed back
to within five points of leagueleader Maccabi Tel Aviv. “We played really well.
We were superior to Hapoel in every facet of the game and deserved to win. We
are improving with every match and I think this team still has plenty of
While Haifa’s relentless surge is showing no
signs of slowing down, Hapoel has lost its way in the past couple of months and
dropped to third place on goal difference on Sunday.
The Reds have won
just two of their past eight matches and are in danger of losing touch in the
title race if they don’t record a significant improvement soon.
played well in the first 14 minutes, but then conceded two goals from set-pieces
and they were in complete control after that,” said Hapoel’s downcast coach
Keinan headed in Haifa’s opener from a Yaniv Katan corner
after 14 minutes and the defender scored with another header 20 minutes later,
netting two goals in a match for the first time in his Premier League
Turgeman poured salt on Hapoel’s wounds in the 56th minute and
Haifa fans spent the remainder of the match singing the praises of their
“It would be unwise for us to talk about winning the
championship at the moment,” said Keinan. “We want to remain the underdog and
prove we deserve to win the title on the pitch.”