betar maccabi haifa .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa is officially out of this season's championship race. After last week's 4-0 loss to Maccabi Herzliya, the defending champion fell pray to a sound performance by Betar Jerusalem and were easily defeated 3-0 at Kiryat Eliezer on Sunday night.
Toto Tamuz was Betar's main weapon, scoring two impressive first half goals and playing an instrumental part in the team's first half demolition act.
The league frontrunner dominated the proceedings even before kick-off, with 4,000 enthusiastic fans providing undying support from the stands.
Despite his less than impressive display in last weekend's win over Ashdod SC, Betar again started with new Brazilian striker Kleber Schwenk partnering Tamuz up front.
The game got under way under rainy and windy conditions with current West Ham and former Haifa playmaker Yossi Benayoun in attendance.
The slippery pitch led to both teams playing a fast and physical game. Betar needed just nine minutes to draw first blood.
Tamuz received the ball outside the host's box, dribbled past his marker and dispatched a dangerous looking drive. Haifa 'keeper Tom Almadon managed to get his hand on the ball, but the shot hit the post and rolled into the back of the net, giving the visiting side the early lead.
Haifa came straight back into the game forcing Betar on the backfoot. But after soaking up the pressure the visitors came back into the game in stunning style, striking twice in the dying minutes of the first half. Tamuz produced another spectacular long range strike in the 42nd, with Tomer Ben Yosef making it 3-0 with a strong header from inside the area just three minutes later.
Haifa coach Roni Levy decided to substitute some of his key regulars at the half time break in an attempt to shake up things. Brazilian midfielder Xavier Dircao and veteran left back Adoram Keisi paid the price for their sloppy form and headed for early baths.
But the second half was played at a slow pace, with Betar seemingly content with the comfortable scoreline and settling for the occasional counter-attack.
Betar's Milovan Mirosevic received his marching orders after a unsporting foul on Gustavo Boccoli in the 86th minute, but even this development couldn't help the hosts find a consolation goal in the dying minutes.
Schum fired from Hapoel Tel Aviv
Yitzhak Schum's stint with Hapoel Tel Aviv has come to an abrupt end. The team's management, which hired the veteran coach at the start of the season, called for an emergency meeting Saturday night and made the controversial decision public on Sunday.
Tel Aviv has failed to impress in recent weeks, managing only lackluster draws with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Kfar Saba. But the development comes as a surprise, as the reds are currently second in the Premier League standings and still in the UEFA Cup, with its tie against Glasgow Rangers only a few weeks away.
Former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin has been appointed as Schum's replacement with immediate effect. The young coach has been working as a leading TV commentator recently.