Israeli soccer: Kiryat Shmona shocks leader Maccabi Haifa

Maccabi edges Hapoel in Tel Aviv derby • Beitar Jerusalem storms back to beat Petah Tikva

 YOSSI ABUKASIS has high hopes of turning around Beitar Jerusalem’s fortunes, and he coached his new club to a 2-1 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva this week (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
YOSSI ABUKASIS has high hopes of turning around Beitar Jerusalem’s fortunes, and he coached his new club to a 2-1 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva this week
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

In a stunning result in the northern capital on Monday night, Ironi Kiryat Shmona upset Israel Premier League leader Maccabi Haifa 2-1 to take the points in front of its home crowd.

Itamar Shviro opened the scoring from up close in the 17th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, but a quarter-hour later league-leading scorer Omer Atzily added another tally to his total to draw Haifa even ahead of the break.

However, Bogdan Planic misdirected a clearance right into his own net in the second half to give Kiryat Shmona the lead for good as Slobodan Drapic’s squad snatched the points.

“We are the youngest team in the league and we are trying to do the maximum with the squad that we have,” Drapic said. “The goal was to keep this team in the league and avoid relegation, but now we are hungry for more and we have a big game coming up against Hapoel Beersheba that we have to prepare for.”

Haifa coach Barak Bachar lamented his side’s performance.

“We gave up way too easy goals and it’s a tough feeling,” said Bachar. “Despite giving up a goal we came back, but after the second goal we couldn’t do what we wanted to. We paid the price for our mistakes and we lost.”

 MACCABI TEL AVIV and a feisty Maccabi Petah Tikva dueled at the Moshava Stadium on Monday night, with the yellow-and-blue emerging with a 2-1 road victory. (credit: BERNEY ARDOV) MACCABI TEL AVIV and a feisty Maccabi Petah Tikva dueled at the Moshava Stadium on Monday night, with the yellow-and-blue emerging with a 2-1 road victory. (credit: BERNEY ARDOV)

In earlier action, Maccabi Tel Aviv just slipped by Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-2 in a heated derby as Djordje Jovanovic scored the winner in second-half injury time to snatch the three points.

The yellow-and-blue opened the scoring very early on as Dan Bitton fed striker Stipe Perica, who beat Reds ’keeper Ernestas Setkus to give Maccabi a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

Roughly 20 minutes later Ben Bitton received the ball in the box and turned Hapoel defender Enric Saborit around and slotted into the far side of Daniel Peretz’s goal to draw Kobi Refuah’s team even at 1-1.

Dan Bitton was at it again for Maccabi as he gave Gaby Kanichowsky a tremendous pass in the area and the midfielder blasted the ball into a wide-open goal to give the yellow-and-blue a 2-1 advantage in the 50th minute.

However, Osher Davida pounced on a rebound 20 minutes later as Hapoel found the equalizer once again.

Just as the game looked to be headed towards a draw, Maccabi newcomer Jovanovic stabbed home a misdirected clearance attempt by Hapoel defender Adi Gotlieb as the striker scored the winning goal for the second time in as many games since joining the yellow-and-blue.

“It’s a big derby and we expected a game like the one we had,” said Maccabi coach Mladen Krstajic. “The first half we needed to score more goals and we controlled everything. We scored but then we gave up an easy goal. Everyone was under a lot of stress, but we can’t concede goals like this. Jovanovic scored two goals in two games and that is why we brought him to the club.”

Refuah was far from happy with his team’s effort.

“All of the goals that we gave up were gifts,” Refuah said following the match. “I am very disappointed from the way we played and the result. We will have to regroup before our next game, but it’s going to take a couple of days to get over this. I would have been upset with a draw and I am really disappointed that we lost.”

Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem downed Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 as Richmond Boakye’s second-half winner helped Yossi Abukasis’s 10-man side take the critical three points.

Ion Nicolaescu gave Nir Klinger’s squad a 1-0 lead at the break, but Adi Tamir took care of a Liran Roman ball to draw the hosts even at the 69th minute.

Five minutes later Yarden Shua was sent off with his second yellow card reducing the Beitar to 10 players. However, soon thereafter Boakye found the back of the Petah Tikva goal to secure the win for the capital city squad.

“Last game we played without fans but today with the crowd they were able to push us as they played a totally different game than last week,” Abukasis explained. “We controlled the pace of play and came back from a goal and a player down. I have to really hand it to the guys for the win.”

Maccabi Netanya blanked Hapoel Jerusalem 2-0 on a brace by Igor Zlatanovic as the diamond city squad is now unbeaten in 10 straight games.

Zlatanovic scored from the penalty spot at the stroke of halftime to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, while the Serbian striker found the back of the goal in the 91st minute to seal the deal and hand Benny Lam’s team the three points.

“I’m upset about this game today as it ate my heart away to have to wait until the 90th minute for the second goal,” an animated Lam said following his team’s win. “We are a strong and powerful club with an excellent staff of many former Netanya players and it was the home fans that helped us take the points today.”

At the Port City, Ashdod SC hosted Hapoel Beersheba to a 1-1 draw as the visitors lost a man to a red card in the first half and needed a late goal to earn a split of the points.

Mariano Bareiro was sent off in the 18th minute after a reckless foul on Gal Katabi, who handed Ran Ben Shimon’s side a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute after punching on a rebound just before the break.

However, Sagiv Yehezkel sent a screamer into the Ashdod goal in the 71st minute to draw Roni Levy’s team even as each squad took a point.

Up north, Hapoel Nof Hagalil and Hapoel Hadera drew 1-1 in an entertaining game up in the Galilee.

Omer Fadida headed home a Bar Cohen ball in the 45th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at halftime, but Shoval Gozlan matched the Nof Hagalil goalscorer in the 53rd minute to help Hadera to a split of the points.

"We fought and battled on a tough pitch,” Hadera coach Menachem Koretzky said. “We are going through a good period right now and we are happy to earn any type of point in every game. We want to win and also play quality soccer for our fans.”

Hapoel Haifa and Bnei Sakhnin played to a 1-1 draw as the sides split the points at Sammy Ofer Stadium.