Maccabi Haifa leapfrogs Beersheba into 1st

Maccabi Tel Aviv hands Southern Reds maiden loss • K8 crushes Nof Hagalil • Ashdod blanks Beitar

 ASHDOD SC midfielder Oz Bilu celebrates after scoring for his team in its 2-0 victory over host Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday night at Teddy Stadium.  (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
ASHDOD SC midfielder Oz Bilu celebrates after scoring for his team in its 2-0 victory over host Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday night at Teddy Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Maccabi Haifa blasted Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-0 in Israel Premier League action as the hosts were handed an early red card which allowed the Greens an easy time in moving to the top of table.

Dolev Haziza slotted home a beautiful team play to give the Greens a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Soon thereafter, Petah Tikva’s Yarden Cohen was issued a red card for a reckless foul on Raz Meir, which left Nir Klinger’s squad a man short for the vast majority of the game.

Dean David doubled Haifa’s advantage in the 27th minute when he put home a Haziza ball, while substitutes Maor Levy and Ben Sahar each found the back of the goal to wrap up the dominant win.

“We put an emphasis on how we started the game and everyone could see that we were looking to win from the outset,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar noted. “This may have been the best we started a game in the last two seasons. We suffered a bit in the second half and could have given up a goal, but we knew what to do and of course are very happy with a 4-0 win.”

At Bloomfield Stadium, Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Beersheba 1-0 on a 65th-minute goal by Osama Khalaila to send the Southern Reds to their first loss of the season.

After a goalless first half, Gaby Kanichowsky’s attempt glanced off of Khalaila, who was onside in the box as the ball went past Omri Glazer for the game’s lone marker.

“I want to congratulate my players on a wonderful performance and the terrific character they showed in the win,” said yellow-and-blue coach Mladen Kristajic. “It was tough to get over the last game against Maccabi Haifa and we had to encourage the players. But this is the Maccabi we want to see.”

Beersheba coach Roni Levy took his side’s loss in stride.

“We are very disappointed with the result,” said Levy. “We knew that this would be a tough game, especially after they had a bad loss. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the game well. While we held them to no chances in the first half we should have scored and in the second half they were just much more dominant.”

By the Carmel Mountain, Hapoel Tel Aviv blanked Hapoel Haifa 2-0 to take the three points at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Ofek Bitton gave the Reds a 1-0 lead from 12 meters out in the 34th minute while Shay Elias elegantly put the ball over Haifa’s keeper Tal Bomshtein late in the second half to secure the two-goal victory.

“If you see the gap between us and Hapoel Haifa you’ll understand that this was an important win,” Tel Aviv coach Kobi Refuah explained after the win. “The guys didn’t play a great game, but they battled and worked hard.”

Elsewhere, Ironi Kiryat Shmona demolished Hapoel Nof Hagalil 6-2 as coach Slobodan Drapic had no mercy on his former coaching partner Shay Barda, who was making his debut on the sidelines for the Galilee squad.

Morgan Ferrier began the game off with the opening goal for the northern side in the seventh minute, and he fed Roie Kehat for the second goal just a minute later to put K8 up 2-0 inside of 10 minutes of play.

Yevgeni Berkman pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 16th minute, but 10 minutes later a straight red card to David Acquah opened the floodgates for Kiryat Shmona, as Eyad Habshi scored on the ensuing penalty, which was followed up by an own-goal along with strikes by Guy Ben Lulu and Adrien Rotchet to wrap up the rout.

“This was very good and three important points for us, but the score doesn’t really reflect the fact that we didn’t play that well,” Drapic explained. “We took advantage of the opportunities we were given and this game allowed us to move farther away from the bottom of the table.”

Meanwhile, Ashdod SC defeated Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 on two second-half goals to move into a Championship Playoff position and snatch the three points.

After a goalless first half, the visiting port city squad grabbed a 1-0 lead on a Muhammed Knaan header and added a late insurance goal via Oz Bilu to wrap up the victory.

“This was by far the best game we had this season in a place that is very tough to play in,” Ashdod coach Ran Ben Shimon explained. “We have a good team and we are looking at where we are on the table and right now we are in a Championship Playoff spot in sixth place. Anyone who says that they aren’t looking at the standings just are not telling the truth.”

Also, Hapoel Hadera and Maccabi Netanya drew 1-1 in a feisty affair as the diamond city side needed an 88th-minute goal to earn a point.

Hadera went on the attack early, but Ivalyo Markov was sent off with a straight red card giving Benny Lam’s squad a man advantage.

However, Gustavo Marmentini broke free, went 60 meters downfield and slotted the ball past a helpless Dani Amos to give Menachem Koretsky’s Hadera a 1-0 lead just ahead of the halftime break.

Netanya looked to find the equalizer for the entire second half and finally found it off a corner kick that Shir Tzedek pounced on from in close to give his side a split of the points.

“I know my players and I did everything we could in this match,” Lam said following the game. “I brought on strikers, midfielders and defensive backs, everything other than me going onto the pitch to play. I knew that if we were in a deficit, Hadera would waste as much time as possible but we took a point against a team that we lost to in the first round of matches.”

Koretzky was also happy with the result for his Hadera team.

“I think we played a very good game especially in the first half,” Koretzky explained. “We knew how to hold onto the ball and we were able to create chances against a team that rarely gives them up. I am proud of the guys as they ran, battled and if we keep playing like this, we should win some games.”