Kiryat Shmona 311.
(photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))
Maccabi Haifa’s hopes of defending its Premier League title look to be as good
as over after the Greens suffered their sixth defeat of the campaign on Saturday
night, dropping 13 points behind Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which extended its winning
streak to six games.
Haifa lost just three times all last season, but its
humbling 3-1 defeat at Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday means it has already lost
double that amount in just 17 matches this term and coach Elisha Levy admitted
that winning a third championship in four years is now extremely
“It is unrealistic for us to even talk about winning the
championship,” Levy said. “You need to have a special talent to lose a match
like we did tonight. They reached three chances and scored three goals. We
created countless opportunities, but couldn’t convert them.”
dominated the possession from the start of the match at Petah Tikva’s new
Moshava Stadium, but striker Wiyam Amasha was uncharacteristically wasteful in
front of goal and Petah Tikva struck on the break.
Guy Tzarfati’s through
ball in the 37th minute caught Haifa’s defense napping and Dominique Wassi
coolly slotted in the opener.
Amasha twice came close to equalizing at
the start of the second half, rounding goalkeeper Austin Ejide six minutes after
the break only to have his shot cleared off the line by Fabian
Six minutes later, Haifa paid the price for its carelessness,
with Yaniv Luzon doubling Petah Tikva’s advantage with an excellent left-footed
Alon Turgeman got a goal back for Haifa in the 63rd, but the
Greens could not find an equalizer, with Wassi clinching the win with his second
goal of the night in stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Kiryat Shmona increased
its lead at the top of the table to seven points thanks to its 10th victory in
11 matches, winning 1-0 at Maccabi Netanya.
Leonard Krupnik’s own goal in
the 51st minute decided the match, with Ran Ben-Shimon’s side winning by a 1-0
score line for the fifth time in six encounters.
“We showed a lot of
commitment and discipline,” said Ben-Shimon, whose team has conceded just two
goals in its past nine matches. “This is one of the toughest grounds to take
points, but we did it and showed our character.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv climbed
to second place in the standings on Saturday, but it now trails Kiryat Shmona by
seven points after being held to a 1-1 draw by Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield
Omer Damari put Hapoel in front in the second minute, but
Kestutis Ivaskevicius’ bullet from 20 meters out 11 minutes from time gave Bnei
Yehuda a deserved equalizer and handed Tel Aviv’s title hopes another
“The score was fair and I have no complaints,” Hapoel coach Dror
Kashtan said. “We haven’t won in the last three matches, but we must continue to
work hard to get back on track.”
Ashdod SC can return to second place and
close to within four points of Kiryat Shmona when it hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv on
Also Sunday, Betar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Acre.
Sakhnin continued its impressive season and snapped Hapoel Beersheba’s
three-match winning streak on Saturday, winning 2-0 at Vasermil Stadium courtesy
of goals from Ahmed Kasoum (42) and Hamad Ganayem (90), with Sakhnin’s Maharan
Radi being sent off in the 58th minute.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Rishon
Lezion and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon drew 1-1, with Yossi Ofir (2) scoring for the
visitors and Amiram Shkalim (57) netting for Rishon. Vladimir Gluscevic
gave Hapoel Haifa a 42nd minute lead against Maccabi Petah Tikva, but Tal
Ben-Haim ensured the match ended in a 1-1 draw with his penalty in the 58th