HAPOEL TEL AVIV’S Omer Damari 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The 2011/12 Premier League season has yet to even hit its halfway mark, but
there is little doubt Hapoel Tel Aviv took a significant step towards a second
championship in three years on Monday night by defeating Maccabi Haifa 3-0 at
Despite its erratic start to the campaign, Haifa was
widely regarded as Hapoel’s main rival for the league title this
However, Tel Aviv’s victory over the reigning-champion takes it a
substantial eight points clear of Haifa, which is still searching for the
consistency that took it to a seventh league title in 11 years last
Hapoel, on the other hand, managed to grind out results even when
it was still finding its way at the start of the season and there is little
question that it is now the team to beat after finally hitting its
Two goals in four second-half minutes from Elroei Cohen (49) and
Omer Damari (52) secured Hapoel’s deserved win, with Toto Tamuz ensuring the
Reds returned to the top of the standings in style by putting the icing on the
cake in stoppage time.
Hapoel squandered superb chances to take the lead
in the first half, but the hosts didn’t have to wait long before finding the
back of the net after the break.
The signing of Cohen may have been
initially regarded as a flop, but the midfielder has blossomed under Dror
Kashtan’s guidance and he gave Hapoel the lead four minutes into the second half
with a stunning shot from 20 meters out.
Three minutes later, Cohen
sliced the Haifa defense with his pass to Damari, who turned Haifa’s Yampolsky
and fired beyond Bojan Saranov for his 10th league goal of the
Haifa threw caution to the wind after that, but it couldn’t score
the goal needed to mount a comeback and Tamuz wrapped up the scoring in stoppage
time to give Hapoel a win that could prove to be the turning point of the