hapoel acre soccer 248.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv owner Mitchell Goldhar was all smiles as he mingled with the home supporters at half time at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
But neither he nor the fans could have been remotely pleased with what they saw on the pitch, as the team which had looked so full of promise only a few weeks ago performed dreadfully in a 1-1 draw against lowly Hapoel Acre.
Elsewhere Saturday, Maccabi Haifa kept up its 100 percent record with goals from Shlomi Arbeitman and Vladimir Dvalishvili seeing off a timid Maccabi Petah Tikva as the champion's local rival, Hapoel Haifa, moved up to second with an impressive 3-0 win at Sakhnin thanks to strikes from Ran Abukarat, Yero Bello and Gal Harel.
Meanwhile, Bnei Yehuda had a day to forget at Hapoel Petah Tikva, where Eliran Atar's goal was equalized by Osman Bashiru, Assi Baldout missed a spot kick and Guy Luzon's men failed to break down the home side despite Tomer Ben-Haim's 59th-minute red card.
Also, Tomer Hemed and Luhav Kiyal gave Maccabi Ahi Nazareth its second win of the season with a 2-1 home victory against Hapoel Ra'anana, for whom Dudu Biton found the net; while Ashdod SC's Moshe Ohayon was left to rue a first-half penalty miss in a goalless draw at home to Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1, Hapoel Acre 1
Maccabi was booed off by the home fans both at
half time and after the final whistle as Avi Nimni's men dropped points against a newly-promoted side for the second week running.
And they could easily have lost all three on Saturday afternoon.
Nimni maintained that his team had created chances despite the visitors packing men behind the ball, and put the failure to win simply down to the bad goal his team let in.
"We did create chances, but they played very defensively, which I do understand," he said. "I'm very disappointed we couldn't hold on for the win. We conceded a really soft goal."
Maccabi saw a lot of the ball in the first half, but there was more luck than judgment in the chances carved out by the home side, one of which Yossi Shivhon made a complete hash of, shooting tamely from six yards after a cross from the energetic Guillermo Israelevich.
Yuval Avidor was just as wasteful moments later, heading weakly at Acre 'keeper Dudu Goresh, who turned in a man-of-the-match performance as he made a string of crucial saves, most notably coming out to deny Ilya Yavruyan and Emmanuel Mayuka in the second period.
Goresh's opposite number Liran Strauber had a heroic moment
of his own, stopping a certain goal after the break by diving
down to his right to keep out Edek Mba's header from Shahar Siman-Tov's free kick.
The Maccabi supporters were ready to forgive their team's wretched performance as the deadlock was broken 11 minutes from time.
Israelevich drove at the heart of the Acre defense and clipped a marvelous pass though to substitute Zion Zemah, who took the ball round Goresh and slid it into the net.
However, the home crowd's relief was short lived thanks to an unlikely attacking move involving the two Acre center-backs on 85 minutes.
Itzik Cohen crossed from the right, Strauber got a weak hand to the ball as he clashed with Mba, and a gleeful Geva Barkai nodded into the empty net.
It was no more than the visitors deserved, and they even missed glorious opportunity to win the game in the very last minute of normal time when Adrijan Nuhiji slotted the ball agonizingly wide after finding himself one-on-one with Strauber.
Acre coach Yaron Hochenboim said his team knew it could frustrate the home crowd, put pressure on "exceptional" Maccabi, and that much to his delight, "in the end, it worked."
Maccabi Haifa 2, Maccabi Petah Tikva 0
What more can Arbeitman possibly do to be given a place in the Maccabi Haifa starting line-up?
The striker came off the bench to score his fifth goal of the season in Saturday night's home victory against Maccabi Petah Tikva, helping his team bounce back from its midweek Champions League loss at Bordeaux and maintain a perfect domestic record.
The hosts failed to capitalize on their dominance in the first-half, owing to the wastefulness of Vladimir Dvalishvili.
The Georgian flashed Yaniv Katan's teasing cross wide, before clearing the bar from two Peter Masilela centers. He then turned both Petah Tikva center halves, Murad Megamadov and Avi Yehiel, but skewed the ball over.
Katan, who at times appeared to be in a league of his own, beautifully set up both Eyal Meshumar and John Culma after the break, but his teammates both volleyed high and wide.
The two second half substitutes combined to give Haifa a deserved 64th-minute lead, with Gustavo Boccoli crossing for Arbeitman to send a textbook header into the bottom corner.
The lead was doubled seven minutes later as Katan got to the by-line and cut the ball back to Dvalishvili, who barged his way though and poked the ball into the top corner.