Maccabi Haifa continued its irresistible league form with a 2-1 home win over Betar Jerusalem on Monday night, extending its perfect start to the Premier League season to seven straight victories.
The defending champion fell behind early to a 16th minute Idan Vered goal, but quickly hit top gear.
Yaniv Katan's missed a penalty in the 39th minute, but Mohammad Ghadir equalized moments later, and nine minutes into the second half Vladimir Dvalishvili scored the winner the hosts so deserved.
Ghadir and Dvalishvili were outstanding throughout the night and Haifa should have won by a far greater margin.
Goalkeeper Ariel Harush was Betar's best player, which summed up a difficult evening for the yellow and black.
"We looked good physically, tactically and mentally against an excellent Betar team," Haifa coach Elisha Levy said.
"It is not easy to come back from a goal down against Betar. We were patient and created plenty of chances."
Haifa's victory reopened a seven-point margin at the top of the standings, with Betar falling 10 points behind the Greens with the season only seven games old. "At this stage it is fair to say Haifa is the best team in the league," Betar coach Itzhak Schum said.
"Our next seven matches are relatively easy and if we win almost all of them I am sure we will be close to the top."
Betar took the lead with its first real chance. Vered stole the ball from a
complacent Jorge Teixeira, and after surging untouched into the box, smashed in the opener from a tight angle under 'keeper Nir Davidovich's body.
Haifa responded well, attacking ferociously and creating numerous chances. In the 22nd minute, Dvalishvili latched on to Ghadir's cross, but sent his shot high above Harush's goal. Just a minute later, Maccabi's Georgian striker was once more put through by Ghadir, but again his shot was not good enough.
Haifa was sending everyone forward in search of the equalizer, and had it not been for Betar keeper Harush, the hosts would have been comfortably ahead by the break.
In the 25th minute, the young stopper denied John Culma's dangerous shot with an instinctive save, and six minutes before halftime he saved a penalty.
Ghadir and Dvalishvili were both centimeters away from equalizing before Ghadir was brought down in the box by Arik Benado, giving Yaniv Katan an ideal opportunity to tie the score five minutes from half time but it was saved well by the goalkeeper.
Just a minute later Haifa was rewarded for its dominance. Dvalishvili laid the ball off for Ghadir and the young midfielder blasted his shot beyond a helpless Harush.
Haifa remained in complete control at the start of the second half, taking the lead nine minutes after the interval.
Ghadir and Dvalishvili teamed-up once again, with the former crossing the ball and the latter perfectly heading in the hosts' second goal of the night.
It took Jerusalem five minutes to react, with Vered getting into a great position five meters from goal, only to be denied by Davidovich. However, Betar began to run out of ideas as the half progressed, failing to put Maccabi under pressure.
Five minutes before the final whistle, substitute Shlomi Arbeitman
squandered a golden opportunity to secure the victory, with Harush coming to Betar's rescue again. Arbeitman's miss almost proved to be costly in the 89th minute.
Toto Tamuz escaped his marker in the center of the box, but a superb Davidovich save kept Haifa ahead. Arbeitman was guilty of carelessness once again in stoppage time, but it was of no importance as moments later the final whistle sounded and Haifa celebrated yet another victory.
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