Maccabi Haifa held on to defeat Hapoel Beersheba 2-1 on Monday night after having to play the entire second half a man down due to a red card issued at the break to Raz Meir.
Barak Bachar’s squad scored two first-half goals which were able to stand up in order to open up a four-point lead atop the table.
The Greens came out flying as Omer Atzily scored a goal-of-the-season candidate in the seventh minute when he sent a left-footed lightning bolt behind Beersheba ’keeper Omri Glazer for a 1-0 lead.
Haifa doubled the advantage when Dolev Haziza sent a terrific ball into the box to Dean David, and before it reached its intended target Beersheba defender Miguel Vitor directed it into his own goal.
However, Roni Levy’s team came right back four minutes later as Mariano Barreiro scored from in close to cut the lead to 2-1 ahead of the break.
While the players headed down to their respective dressing rooms, Haifa defender Meir was issued a straight red card for getting into a confrontation with Beersheba assistant coach Arik Benado, reducing the Greens to 10 men for the second half.
But the Southern Reds couldn’t break through Haifa’s iron-clad defense despite holding the man advantage for the final 45 minutes as the visitors collected the win.
“The players gave 200% and performed heroically in the second half to take the win, our 10th in a row,” an emotional Bachar said following the game.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Jerusalem 3-1 thanks to a pair of late second-half injury-time goals to take the three points.
The yellow-and-blue took a 1-0 lead in the first half as Dan Bitton slotted the ball behind Reds ’keeper Adebayo Adeleye to head into the break with the advantage.
However, second-half Jerusalem substitute Idan Shemesh stunned Mladen Krstajic’s squad as he beat Daniel Peretz with a smart header in the 73rd minute.
Maccabi was reduced to 10 men when Matan Hozez was issued a second yellow card, but Jerusalem couldn’t take advantage of the extra man. Gaby Kanichowsky and Ido Shachar each scored their first league goal to wrap up the victory for Maccabi.
At Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Nof Hagalil played to a tantalizing 2-2 draw that saw Yoav Tomer score a 98th-minute goal to earn the Reds a point.
Visiting Nof Hagalil took a surprise lead in the 15th minute when Kevaughn Frater pounded in the rebound off his own missed penalty. Stav Nachmani doubled coach Shay Barda’s team’s advantage five minutes into the second half off a Mohamed Traore miscue, but a few minutes later Shlomi Azulay pulled a goal back to get within one goal once again.
As the match went deep into injury time Tomer found the equalizer off a corner to split the points.
By the Carmel Mountain, Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Petah Tikva drew 2-2 to split the points at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Alen Ozbolt opened the scoring with an end-to-end run as he beat Arik Yanko to give the hosts a quick 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. However, Mohamed Hindy sent a perfect through ball to James Adeniyi who drew Nir Klinger’s squad even at 1-1 ahead of the break.
Hindy once again played facilitator in the 49th minute when he sent yet another beautiful through-ball to Lameck Banda, who gave the visitors a 2-1 lead. But Hanan Maman jumped on a horrible Yanko clearance to draw Elisha Levy’s team even as the sides took a point apiece.
Up north, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Beitar Jerusalem played to a thrilling 2-2 draw that saw the capital city side’s Ofir Kriaf score an 89th-minute equalizer to split the points.
Liran Rotman gave Beitar a very early lead in the seventh minute which Yossi Mizrachi’s team nursed into the second half until Samuel Braun scored into the upper half of the visitor’s goal to tie the game up at 1-1.
Ziv Morgen pulled Slobodan Drapic’s team into the lead in the 79th minute, but Kriaf took advantage of an offside error by Roie Kehat to even the score up at 2-2 to earn each side a point.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Hadera slipped by Ashdod SC 2-1 as Shoval Gozlan scored an 87th-minute goal to take the three points.
Gustavo Marmentini opened the scoring for Menachem Koretzky’s squad in the seventh minute as he jumped all over a rebound, but Ata’a Jaber beat Robi Levkovitz to even the score at 1-1 just before the 30-minute mark.
As the game looked to be heading for a draw, substitute Shoval Gozlan headed home the winner off a corner kick to hand the hosts the victory.
Maccabi Netanya blanked Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 on a first-half Igor Zlatanovic penalty to take the three points.