Hapoel Tel Avi 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Premier League title hopes suffered a significant blow on
Sunday night with a 1-0 defeat at Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Hapoel was leading
the league standings just last week, but two straight 1-0 defeats, the first to
Ironi Kiryat Shmona last Monday, have seriously complicated its
The Reds have fallen to third place, and even though the
season is still not even yet at its halfway mark, coach Dror Kashtan will not be
happy with seeing his team five-points behind the streaking Kiryat Shmona, which
recorded its ninth win in 10 matches with a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Haifa on
Just like in its match at Kiryat Shmona last week, Tel Aviv
struggled to create scoring opportunities on Sunday, and when it eventually did,
it squandered them.
For a second straight week, Hapoel had to manage
without one of its lethal strikers, with Omer Damari suspended from the match
against Petah Tikva after Toto Tamuz missed the encounter in Kiryat
Tamuz came centimeters away from giving Hapoel the lead in the
10th minute on Sunday, expertly bringing down the ball before firing his shot
against the post from 20 meters out.
Petah Tikva fans had little to cheer
about for the first 28 minutes of the game, but in the 29th minute they found
themselves celebrating a goal after Hapoel’s defense failed to clear a Danny
Preda corner and defender Shay Maimon smashed in the opener from close
The hosts should have doubled their advantage eight minutes later,
but Victor Merey made a real mess of his shot, firing high above the Tel Aviv
goal with only ‘keeper Boris Klaiman to beat.
Merey was wasteful once
more in the 54th minute when he shot wide instead of passing, and Petah Tikva
almost paid the price.
Tamuz twice came close to equalizing, but
goalkeeper Liran Strauber came to Petah Tikva’s rescue with excellent saves in
the 88th minute and in the seventh minute of stoppage time to secure the victory
which takes his team seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Monday, Maccabi Haifa will look to release some pressure when it hosts Maccabi
The reigning champion has lost two straight league games,
leaving it 13 points behind Kiryat Shmona, while also suffering an early Europa
League exit last week.