Mac TA blanks Rishon to go top-of-table

Miserable Mac Haifa shut out by Ashdod; Betar, Hap TA set for clash at Bloomfield.

September 11, 2011 03:50
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Moussa Konate

maccabi tel aviv 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Maccabi Haifa’s woes worsened on Saturday after it dropped to a 1-0 defeat at Ashdod SC, while Maccabi Tel Aviv easily maintained its 100 percent start to the season, beating Hapoel Rishon Lezion 2-0.

After suffering a heartbreaking exit from the Champions League and squandering a two-goal lead against Hapoel Petah Tikva in its last league outing, Haifa dropped to its first Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday.

Despite coming off a two-week international break, the reigningchampion seemed tired and lifeless in Ashdod and paid the price for its disappointing display when David Revivo netted the winner for the hosts in the 83rd minute.

“We didn’t play well from the start and we ended up losing patience and played even worse,” said Haifa coach Elisha Levy, who has got plenty to ponder ahead of his team’s Europa League group stage opener against AEK Larnaca on Thursday.

“Ashdod closed us down and we played into their hands. This is the type of match you need to win with character, but we couldn’t do that and lost important points.” Haifa now trails Maccabi Tel Aviv by five points after the yellow-and-blue cruised to another comfortable victory in Rishon.

The hosts entered the match brimming with confidence after claiming six of six points from their first two matches, but they never really troubled Maccabi after Nivaldo gave the visitors the lead in the 10th minute.

Moussa Konate wrapped up the win in the 90th minute.

“Clearly we didn’t play well in the first half,” said Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir, who takes his team to Turkey for its Europa League group opener against Besiktas on Thursday.

“We controlled the possession but we didn’t create chances. Sometimes you can pay for that, but fortunately for us they didn’t threaten our goal.

“We know we can’t just turn on a switch and put on a show whenever we like. We would like to do that, but it isn’t easy. Teams focus on defense against us and do all they can to disrupt our game.”

Betar Jerusalem can move tied on points with Tel Aviv at the top of the standings on Sunday, but it will have to defeat Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium to do so.

While Betar has surprisingly won its first two matches under the guidance of Yuval Naim, Hapoel has yet to truly convince under Dror Kashtan, but it will have an ideal opportunity to calm its restless fans with a win over the bitter enemy on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon have yet to pick up a point this season after each dropped to yet another defeat on Saturday.

Nitzan Shirazi’s position as Haifa coach is beginning to look shaky after his side lost its third straight match on Saturday, falling 2-0 at home to Bnei Yehuda, which won thanks to goals from Pedro Galvan (47) and Amir Agajev (86).

Ramat Hasharon suffered its second consecutive defeat, losing 3-0 at Bnei Sakhnin.

Ramat Hasharon’s Naor Pesser was sent off after just eight minutes and the hosts took all three points with goals from Maharan Radi (10, 80) and Kostadin Hazurov (90).

Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva beat Maccabi Netanya 1-0 on the road through Tal Ben-Haim’s goal (35), while Hapoel Petah Tikva and Ironi Kiryat Shmona draw 1-1.

Adi Elisha gave Kiryat Shmona the lead in the 21st minute before Yaniv Luzon equalized for the hosts in the 73rd.

On Monday, Hapoel Acre opens its new stadium with a match against Hapoel Beersheba.

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