Hap Haifa holds Reds as Greens roll

Betar tripped up 2-1 by basement-dwelling Hapoel Petah Tikva

Hapoel Tel Aviv (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv can return to the top of the Premier League standings on Sunday night after Hapoel Tel Aviv was held to a 0-0 draw by Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.
A win for the yellow-and-blue at Hapoel Beersheba will take it above its arch rival into first place after the Reds failed to breakdown Nitzan Shirazi’s Haifa side at Bloomfield Stadium.
After losing its first five matches of the season, Haifa defended desperately at Bloomfield and had goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale and referee Eli Hakhmon to thank for its first point of the campaign.
Tel Aviv was far from spectacular once more, but it dominated the possession and found the back of the net in the 88th minute, only to have Omer Damari’s goal wrongly disallowed.
“We didn’t play that well, but we still reached chances and scored a legal goal,” said Hapoel coach Dror Kashtan, who next takes his team to Legia Warsaw for its second match of the Europa League group stage on Thursday night .
“Playing five matches in 11 days isn’t easy and it affected the players. You can’t score in every match and that’s no tragedy. That’s just the way it goes in soccer.”
Maccabi Haifa took its frustration out on Hapoel Ramat Hasharon on Saturday, rebounding from Wednesday’s second defeat of the season at Bnei Sakhnin with a 5-0 win at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
The encounter at Kiryat Eliezer was essentially decided in the 13th minute when Ramat Hasharon’s Avi Sofer brought down Haifa’s new Ecuadorian signing Marlon de Jesus in the box, resulting in a penalty for the Greens and a red card for the visiting defender.
Yaniv Katan stepped up to convert the spot kick and score his 100th goal for the club, opening the floodgates.
Haifa fans had to wait until three minutes before the break to see a second goal, with Taleb Tawatha crossing the ball from the left and Weeam Amasha heading in his seventh league goal.
Greens defender Sari Falach ensured the hosts could cruise in the second half after scoring his second goal in a week on the verge of halftime, with Idan Vered (56) and Ali Osman (72) completing the rout in the second half.
“Cleary we have been through some difficult days, but that’s the way it goes at this club after you lose a match,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. “We need to continue as we did today and I’m sure we will be fine. It was important for us not to lose touch with the leaders and we made sure of that.”
Betar Jerusalem fell to its second defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 2-1 to Hapoel Petah Tikva, which won for the first time.
The turning point of the match at National Stadium in Ramat Gan came in the 11th minute when goalkeeper Ariel Harush fouled Or Fishbein in the box and was subsequently sent off.
Yaniv Luzon put the visitors in front with a cool penalty and just a minute later Fishbein found himself all alone in the center of the box and had little trouble giving Petah Tikva a comfortable lead.

Petah Tikva’s Austin Ejide saved Aviram Bruchian’s spot kick in the 68th minute before Amit Ben-Shushan got Betar back in the match with a penalty in the 78th, only for the hosts to run out of steam in the closing minutes.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Hapoel Acre. Moshe Mishaelof gave Acre the lead in the 14th minute before Ahmed Saba (32) – in his fourth goal in a week – and Nir Nahum (76) secured the comeback.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Sakhnin drew 0-0.
On Monday, Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Rishon Lezion and Ashdod SC visits Bnei Yehuda.