Haifa Derby 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa maintained its stranglehold over its cross-town rival Hapoel Haifa
on Monday night, winning 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium to return to the top of
the Premier League standings and keep Hapoel without a league derby win since
After an eventless first half, the Greens clinched the win after
the break thanks to goals from Lior Rafaelov (60) and Vladimir Dvalishvili (85)
and moved two points clear of second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv, with four matches
to be played until the start of the championship playoffs.
“We knew it
would be a tight and difficult match,” Maccabi coach Elisha Levy said. “In the
first half we dominated the possession, but didn’t reach many scoring
opportunities. We were much better offensively in the second half after
Dvalishvili came on as a substitute and we deserved to win the
Levy is optimistic regarding his team’s chances of remaining in
first place until the end of the season.
“We are in a good position both
confidence wise and physically, and as we draw nearer to the end of the season
we will play better and have a bigger chance to win the title,” Levy
The loss leaves Hapoel two points back of sixth-placed Bnei Yehuda
and a place in the championship playoffs, but coach Nitzan Shirazi had no
complaints about Monday’s result.
“Maccabi was the better team tonight
and its depth decided the match,” he said.
Both teams seemed more than
content with a goalless deadlock in the first half.
Neither side created
much, leaving both goalkeepers with very little work.
Tvrtko Kale had to be alert to stop Rafaelov’s attempt four minutes from the
break and there were unhappy faces among both sets of supporters after an
eventless first 45 minutes.
Levy sent in Dvalishvili at the start of the
second half in the hope of awakening his team from its slumber and Maccabi was
far more dangerous after the interval.
Tomer Hemed came centimeters from
giving the Greens the lead 11 minutes into the second half, turning and smashing
his shot against the upright, with Dvalishvili failing to control the
Four minutes later, Haifa got the breakthrough.
sent through Rafaelov and the midfielder rolled the ball past Kale to the
delight of the visiting contingent.
Hapoel committed more players forward
after falling behind, but it created little to nothing and Dvalishvili wrapped
up the win five minutes from time.
Arik Benado crossed the ball into the
box and the Georgian’s accurate volley ensured Maccabi returned to first
position in the table.
“There was only one team on the pitch tonight,”
Rafaelov said. “We may not have created many chances, but we controlled the
“There has only been one team in this city for the past three