(photo credit: AP)
If Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Nir Klinger thought his team's season could not possibly get any worse he was proved horribly wrong when his side was fortunate to escape with a 2-1 defeat to a Maccabi Haifa steamroller in Sunday night's match at Kiryat Eliezer.
Tel Aviv may not appreciate the loss, but it could easily have been worse as Haifa was unlucky not to win by two or three goals.
Ten was the number of the day as Maccabi Haifa opened a 10-point gap at the top of the table with its 10th win in 10 games.
The greens maintained their dominance of the Premier League and continued to stroll towards a third straight championship.
The loss was Tel Aviv's fourth in its 10 matches and the yellows should start to worry about staying close with second-place Bnei Yehuda rather than first-place Haifa.
The greens went ahead after just 11 minutes with their first shot on goal. The referee failed to notice striker Roberto Colautti receiving the ball in an offside position and the Argentinean laid the ball off to Michael Zandberg. Zandberg's shot was parried by Tel Aviv 'keeper Liran Strauber, but only as far as Gustavo Boccoli, who tucked the ball into the net.
Haifa dictated the play throughout the first half and was ahead by two after 35 minutes. Boccoli was the scorer once again as he pounced on defender Salem Abu Siam's mistake and scored from two meters out.
Tel Aviv failed to have a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes and was eager to make a dent in the greens' defense in the second half.
Haifa continued to be the better team after the interval, but a lapse of concentration in defense gave Tel Aviv a lifeline.
Defender Alon Harazi, who was celebrating his 400th appearance for the greens, failed to control a cross in the box and Avi Nimni completed the simple task of slipping the ball in.
Despite Tel Aviv's best efforts, a equalizer was never on the cards and Haifa completed another easy win.