Local Soccer: Hapoel Tel Aviv holds Mac Haifa 0-0

'Game of the season' ends in deadlock as Greens drop points for the second time this term.

January 26, 2010 04:42
2 minute read.
Local Soccer: Hapoel Tel Aviv holds Mac Haifa 0-0

yaniv katan soccer macabi haifa 248. (photo credit: )


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Maccabi Haifa remained 10 points clear of Hapoel Tel Aviv after the clash of the titans ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday night.
Haifa entered the match after winning 17 of its first 18 games of the season, while Hapoel had triumphed in 10 of its last 12 encounters.

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However, more than anything else, both teams were desperate to avoid defeat on Monday, and Israel's two best sides canceled each other out.

An away draw at Kiryat Eliezer is usually a decent result for any side, but Hapoel may live to rue its negative approach on Monday, even with the league's new format meaning the gap will be halved ahead of the final five matches of the season.

Haifa created the better chances and, despite failing to claim all three points, is still comfortably in front at the top of standings after keeping its eighth consecutive clean sheet.

"There was a good pace to the game even though there were few chances," Haifa coach Elisha Levy said.

"We should have done better with our chances in the second half, but we played an excellent team which moves the ball superbly. The status quo at the top continues and I think the championship will only be decided in the final matches of the season."

The Kiryat Eliezer stands were full more than 30 minutes before the start of the encounter on a cold Haifa night, creating the perfect setting for the match of the season.

Hapoel pressured the hosts from the very beginning, but created very few chances and Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovich had little work to do.

Davidovich made a mess of his save from Itai Shechter's shot in the seventh minute, but fortunately for the 'keeper his defense cleared the danger before Maharan Lala had the chance to turn the rebound into the net.

Haifa was in no hurry at the start of the game and its lack of urgency meant it rarely threatened to score the breakthrough.

Vladimir Dvalishvili came closest in the 13th minute, with his shot from the edge of the area being cleared only barely by Tel Aviv's Neil Abarbanel.

Both teams dictated a fast pace to the match, with each side putting together several slick moves during a tense first half.

The level dropped dramatically after the break and both coaches soon made substitutions. The league's top scorer, Shlomi Arbeitman, came on for Lior Rafaelov in the 61st minute, with Tel Aviv's new signing Daniel de Ridder replacing Lala.

Arbeitman's introduction did the world of good for the hosts, and Abarbanel began to be tested.

Dvalishvili came tantalizingly close to scoring the breakthrough in the 65th, but he failed to place a relatively simple header on target. Biram Kiyal wasn't far off two minutes later and Arbeitman also had a chance shortly afterwards, but Maccabi kept missing the target and Abarbanel had no real trouble maintaining a clean sheet.
De Ridder's Hapoel debut lasted just 15 minutes after the Dutch midfielder had a clash of heads with John Culma and was substituted. Haifa continued to create the better opportunities.

But as the match progressed a goal seemed less and less likely and a 0-0 draw was the only fair result.

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