Maccabi Netanya striker Ahmed Saba 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kilger)
Maccabi Haifa mounted the pressure on Hapoel Tel Aviv by opening a fivepoint
margin atop the Premier League standings on Saturday night, while Maccabi Tel
Aviv’s season went from bad to worse with a 3-0 home defeat to Maccabi
Haifa had little trouble dispatching the shambolic Hapoel
Ashkelon at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, winning 3-0 to give itself some breathing
space ahead of Hapoel Tel Aviv’s visit to Ashdod SC on Sunday
Haifa’s sixth win in its past seven matches was one of its easiest
of the season. Defender Shay Mimon gave the hosts the lead after 18 minutes,
pouncing on the rebound from Vladimir Dvalishvili’s shot, and the Greens were
cruising at the break thanks to Tomer Hemed’s close range effort in the
Hemed headed in his second goal of the evening five minutes into
the second half and Ashkelon dropped to its eighth straight defeat.
were primed for this match like we are for every game and that is the key to our
success,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. “This was one of those matches we had to
win and we did that while also playing some good soccer.”
It seemed as if
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s season had hit rock-bottom with last week’s 4-0 defeat at
Ironi Kiryat Shmona, but Saturday’s loss at the hands of Netanya was even more
So much was expected from the yellow- and-blue this season,
but the disappointment from the team grows with every week, and after the
sacking of Avi Nimni earlier this year, the fans were calling for the head of
Moti Ivanir on Saturday.
Tel Aviv was once more desperately poor –
especially considering its NIS 100 million-plus budget – and was outplayed by
Nir Nahum scored the opener in the 21st minute
after a solo effort on the edge of the area and Reuven Atar’s men clinched the
win in the final 10 minutes through goals from Ahmed Saba (84th) and Kobi Dajani
“Maccabi looked bad for a second straight match and of course all
of the responsibility is on the coach,” a furious Ivanir said. “Only the coach
shoulders the blame for what happens on the field and I have to deal with
Netanya, which was expected to fight against relegation at the start
of the season, is unbeaten in its last seven matches and is in the mix for a
place in the championship playoffs.
“I’m so proud of my players,” Atar
said. “They deserve all the credit.
They are hungry and disciplined and
we are now aiming to reach the topsix.”
An 89th-minute winner by
substitute Moshe Ben-Lulu gave Betar Jerusalem a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Haifa
at Teddy Stadium on Saturday night, taking Roni Levy’s men 12 points clear of
the relegation zone.
Betar had few chances on Saturday,but Ben-Lulu’s precious goal not only moved the team well clear of the bottom
two, but also cut the gap from 10th-placed Hapoel Beersheba and a place in the
mid-table playoffs to just three points.
“This is a very important win,
especially because Hapoel Haifa is a very good team,” Levy said. “We’ve opened a
significant gap on the bottom teams and if we claim two more wins from our final
three matches we can think about making the mid-table
Elsewhere, Hapoel Acre moved into sixth position on Saturday,
winning 2-0 at Hapoel Beersheba.
Maharan Radi gave the visitors the lead
in the 38th minute and Zome Louis clinched the three points four minutes from
Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Ironi Kiryat Shmona drew 0-0
at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts Bnei Yehuda on
Sunday, with Hapoel Ramat Gan visiting Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.