Maccabi Haifa may not in top form, but it sure knows when to turn up the level.
The greens faced a stiff challenge from Alain Masudi and Maccabi Netanya, but staged an inspiring secondhalf comeback for a 2-1 win after securing only one point from its previous two league fixtures.
Haifa retained its perfect record at Kiryat Eliezer two rounds into the season, with its losses to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Petah Tikva coming in away games.
Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Sakhnin continued their race against relegation in dramatic fashion, securing victories in this weekend. Ashdod SC failed to impress against Hapoel Kfar Saba and is still deep in the danger zone.
Betar Jerusalem hosts Nitzan Shirazi's Bnei Yehuda Sunday night at Teddy Stadium, hoping to make the most of Hapoel Tel Aviv's draw with Hapoel Petah Tikva to move to second place.
Betar manager Luis Fernandez has decided to omit Omri Afek from his squad for the second time this season and it looks like the talented player's days in yellow-and-black are numbered.
At Kiryat Eliezer, Netanya surprised the reigning champs in the 35th minute with a well-crafted set piece by Tal Banin. The veteran midfielder crossed the ball towards Masudi, who made no mistake and glanced the ball into the goal.
The turning point came in the 69th minute, when Netanya's Amir Taga was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for a brutal foul on Klemi Saban.
The greens pushed ahead and found the equalizer in the 78th minute. Idan Tal sent in a sharp kick from 30 meters which 'keeper Avi Peretz fisted towards Eden Ben-Basat, who provided a clinical finish to make it 1-1.
Haifa won the game when it was awarded a penalty in the 85th minute. Brazilian Gustavo Boccoli made no mistake and blasted the ball into the goal to give his team the dramatic win.
Maccabi Petah Tikva 3,
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1
Petah Tikva took the lead in the 25th minute when right back Ismael Amar set up the unmarked Stanislav Dovrovin, who was in position to guide the ball into the back of the net.
Liran Cohen scored in the 53rd minute to bring the yellow-and-blue back to life, but Petah Tikva didn't hold back and retaliated with two more goals.
Dovrovin completed his brace in the 65th and Rubel Sarsour sealed match two minutes later with a slick solo effort, putting the game beyond the visitors reach.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 1,
Hapoel Peta Tikva 1
The hosts dominated from the start, enjoying most of the ball possession and controlling the flow of the game. Gili Vermut was active upfront and missed a couple of easy chances in front of goal.
Baruch Dego was below par in the first half and was replaced by Felix Obuka.
The move paid dividends in the 67th minute. Tel Aviv was awarded a corner and it was the substitute Obuka who was unmarked in the area and headed in the ball to give the reds the breakthrough.
But Petah Tikva found a way back into the game in the later stages of the game.
Teenage Toto Tamuz found himself in space following a John Pantsil blunder and struck a fierce shot to score the equalizer in the 86th minute.
"You all saw the game," an angry Dror Kashtan said, explaining the disappointing draw. "We dominated all along, while Petah Tikva scored with its only chance of the game. But we'll come out next week and continue to fight for a place in Europe."
Hapoel Kfar Saba 2,
Ashdod SC 2
Shalev Menashe scored in the final minute of a poor first half with a crisply struck volley from 20 meters, giving the hosts the surprise lead.
Kfar Saba struck again in the 56th when Ashdod goalkeeper Sami Adjei clumsily fumbled the ball and Samuel Yeboah jabbed in the rebound to make it 2-0.
But the visitors leveled the score with two quick goals by Blesing Kaku (63) and David Revivo (65) and spoilt the hosts' plans of salvaging their season.
Bnei Sakhnin 1,
Upper Nazareth 0
In Friday afternoon's game, Bnei Sakhnin registered a valuable win with a moment of brilliance from Ahmed Kasum in the 35th minute.
The forward dribbled past two Nazareth defenders and squared the ball for Pascal Kondafoni, who tapped in the winner from close range.
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