Hapoel Haifa players celebrate victory over Maccabi 370.
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa’s Premier League title hopes already look to be dead and buried after it dropped to a humbling 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Haifa in the derby at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday night.
The Greens finally snapped two months without a win by defeating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3- 0 last week, but coach Arik Benado heard calls for his resignation while his players were booed off the pitch on Sunday following yet another dejecting performance by the team that was considered to be the main challenger for reigning champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Haifa followed up the victory over Petah Tikva with a 3-2 loss at PAOK Thessaloniki in Europa League action on Thursday and has got just a single victory to its name in its past 10 matches in all competitions after Sunday’s loss to its crosstown rival.
A single goal separated the sides, with Zarko Korac netting the winner in the 13th minute with an accurate volley after some industrious build-up play by Yuval Avidor.
The Greens dominated the possession for the remainder of the match, but they struggled to create many clear-cut chances and were denied by goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale when they finally registered a shot on target.
The win took Hapoel Haifa up to third place, just three points from league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv, which hosts fourth-placed Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.
“This is the greatest win of my career,” said Hapoel Haifa’s emotional coach Shlomi Dora.
Maccabi Haifa remained in 10th place with just eight points from seven matches and could find itself 11 points behind the yellowand- blue should it defeat Sakhnin.
“This was a bad game by us and we didn’t deserve to win,” said Benado. “We are simply not good enough at the moment. We need to work hard so that we will play better. This is not what we planned or expected, but ... we will do everything to fix it.”