(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Netanya pulled off the shock of the season on Saturday, beating league leader Maccabi Haifa 1-0 to add some unexpected sparkle to Monday’s Tel Aviv derby.
There was a shock of a different nature in the capital meanwhile, as coach Itzhak Schum parted ways with Betar by “mutual consent,” after the Jerusalem side suffered yet another defeat, this time going down 3-2 at Hapoel Haifa. Assistant coach David Amsalem has taken charge of the side, apparently on a temporary basis.
Also Saturday, Ashdod SC beat Hapoel Beersheba 5-2 in a thoroughly entertaining derby of the South, while Pedro Galvan scored the winner for a resurgent Bnei Yehuda in a 2-1 victory at home to Hapoel Acre.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Petah Tikva came from behind to beat Ahi Nazareth 2-1 courtesy of a late Danny Freda strike, while Jonathan Assous was the match-winner as Hapoel Petah Tikva beat Hapoel Ra’anana by the same score-line.Maccabi Netanya 1, Maccabi Haifa 0
Netanya coach Reuven Atar said it felt “wonderful” to beat the “devastating Maccabi Haifa.”
And indeed, taking an impressive seven points from the top three teams Atar has helped his side climb to sixth place – a feat that seemed unimaginable when he arrived to pick up the pieces of disastrous start to the campaign.
The reigning champion was unlucky not to go in at half-time at least one goal to the good, as referee Menashe Moshiach denied Katan a stonewall penalty after the Haifa playmaker was clearly upended by Almog Cohen.
And Aristide Zogbo made a magnificent flying save to tip Dvalishvili’s header over the bar just before the break.
The all-important goal came on 69 minutes. A Klemi Saban corner was cleared to the edge of the box by Keinan, and Shalev Menashe nonchalantly side-footed the ball into the corner past the unsighted Davidovich, who was rooted to the spot.
Katan had a glorious chance in the dying minutes, but he volleyed over after Ali Ottman’s shot had come back out to the Haifa captain, and Atar’s men held on for a sensational victory.Hapoel Haifa 3, Betar Jerusalem 2
Betar is in serous danger of failing to even make the top six split this season.
The now Schum-less side slipped to seventh on Saturday thanks to Hapoel Haifa’s first-half goal-blitz, and has still only won once away from home this season.
Haifa went in front on 18 minutes when Savity Lipenia headed in Eran Levy’s corner, and the hosts doubled their advantage six minutes later with a superb goal.
Eden Ben-Basat played a one-two with Levy and found Yero Bello, who lifted the ball over Arik Benado, ran on and curled it beyond Ariel Harush.
Two minutes later, Haifa captain Eyal Tartazky robbed Idan Vered, went
past Benado like he wasn’t there and slid the ball across for Bello to
poke into the net.
Barak Itzhaki got on the end of Amit Ben-Shushan’s cross to hand Betar a lifeline eight minutes before the break.
And ten minutes from time, Benado headed in Idan Tal’s center to set up
a frantic finish, but the Jerusalem side failed to further break
through the Haifa backline.