Four goals in the space of 14 second-half minutes gave Maccabi Haifa a 4-0 win over Ashdod SC in a Premier League match Sunday night at Kiryat Eliezer stadium.
Ashdod held on for 62 minutes, but after conceding the first goal, allowed Haifa to easily score three more.
"As long as we closed down Haifa's attacks, we were all right," said Ashdod coach Yossi Mizrahi after the match. "We fell apart after the first goal and we cannot allow that."
Haifa was not at its best but was still in control of the entire match.
Unbelievably, Haifa continues to increase its lead at the top of the standings and is now 17 points ahead of second-place Betar.
On the other hand, Ashdod's position is now only one point clear of the relegation zone and faces a tough battle to stay in the top division.
Haifa dominated possession from the start, albeit without ever looking entirely convincing.
Maccabi was eager to start the match well and pressured Ashdod into turnovers that led to the greens' total control of ball possession.
Five minutes from the start, Roberto Colautti should have put Haifa in the lead. The Argentinian striker failed to take advantage of Gustavo Boccoli's cross and hit a shot from five meters out straight at Ashdod 'keeper Yaniv Ben-Yishai.
Maccabi continued to search for the opener, but Colautti was once again the main culprit in Haifa's lack of cutting-edge in front of the goal.
Seventeen minutes into the match Colautti had another chance at giving the hosts the lead, but the striker failed to control a cross and kicked the ball wide of the goal.
Despite its largely ineffective first-half display, Haifa had one more opportunity before halftime, when 33 minutes from the start Boccoli found space 15 meters from the goal, but he blasted his shot just wide.
Ashdod failed to make any kind of impression in the first half and didn't even have one serious attempt on the Haifa goal.
The second half began much like the first ended, with both teams trading possession in the center of the field and failing to create any chances in front of goal.
Sixty-two minutes into the match, Haifa finally got a breakthrough.
Colautti laid the ball off to Boccoli, who blasted a low shot from 25 meters out that left the Ashdod 'keeper helpless.
The goal broke the visitors' spirit and Haifa took advantage. Eight minutes after the opener, Colautti was once again in the center of the action, slipping the ball into Shlomi Arbitman's path. With only the keeper to beat, he easily put the ball in the net.
Three minutes later Colautti finally got a reward for his hard work. The Argentinian found himself clear in the Ashdod box and headed the ball in for a goal.
Two minutes later Colautti got his second. Once again, the Ashdod defense failed to mark the striker and he headed from three meters out to put Haifa four goals ahead.
When the final whistle came, Ashdod was fortunate to escape with only a four-goal loss.
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