Maccabi Haifa nips Hadera on late penalty save

Both Jerusalem clubs victorious • Leader Mac TA sinks Sakhnin • Ness Ziona holds Beersheba

 MACCABI HAIFA teammates celebrate after Omer Atzili's first goal in the seventh minute sent the Greens on their way to a shocking 2-0 victory over Juventus on Tuesday night in their Champions League Group H clash at Sammy Ofer Stadium (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN)
MACCABI HAIFA teammates celebrate after Omer Atzili's first goal in the seventh minute sent the Greens on their way to a shocking 2-0 victory over Juventus on Tuesday night in their Champions League Group H clash at Sammy Ofer Stadium
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN)

Maccabi Haifa slipped by Hapoel Hadera 1-0 on Monday night in Israel Premier League action after ’keeper Josh Cohen saved a Menashe Zalka penalty in the 96th minute to give the Green the three points by the Carmel Mountain.

Haifa took the lead in the 73rd minute when Frantzdy Pierrot redirected a Mavis Tschibota ball in the box, but Hadera was awarded a penalty deep into second-half stoppage time after a foul in the box.

However, Zalka’s spot kick was easily saved by Cohen as Haifa claimed the maximum points and the win to stay close to Maccabi Tel Aviv atop the table.

“After controlling the game for 99% of the time it would have been very disappointing to give up a penalty goal right at the end,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar said. “In soccer anything can happen and at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we won. Playing against Hadera was tough with how they defended and we could have easily conceded which was almost the case.”

Hadera coach Asaf Nimni was satisfied with his team despite the loss.

  IT HAS been an uncharacteristic frustrating few weeks for Maccabi Haifa, with Bnei Reineh shocking the back-to-back Israeli champion 1-0 in local Premier League play (credit: MAOR ELKASLASI) IT HAS been an uncharacteristic frustrating few weeks for Maccabi Haifa, with Bnei Reineh shocking the back-to-back Israeli champion 1-0 in local Premier League play (credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)

“We tried to get a result and we played a tactical game where we were very responsible,” Nimni said. “We made no mistakes on a tactical level and we did exactly what we worked on all week long. Our goal is to stay in the league.”Cohen also spoke about his netminding heroics.

“I do my homework and sometimes it works. We played well, but the penalty could have changed the entire game so it’s a great feeling to save it. We took the three points and there were things we could have done better but we won and now we move on.”

Up in the Galilee, Maccabi Tel Aviv slipped by Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 on a late Maor Kandil goal to grab the road conquest and remain in first place.

The hosts had two goals that were called off after having been reviewed by the VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee), which left the door open for Vladen Ivic’s squad to steal the points which it promptly did when Kandil slammed home a rebound off of a Djorde Jovanovic shot in the box in the 87th minute to snatch the victory.

“I can be happy with the result,” Ivic explained. “But not how we played for the majority of the game. We started off well and we created chances but then we lost our confidence and they had more creativity than us.”

“I’m leaving this game with a very bad feeling,” Sakhnin coach Haim Silvas said. “We were better for the majority of the game, we played well and scored goals. For the most part, I don’t complain, but I felt that any time they could get an advantage that went to them.”

Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem blanked Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-0 as the hosts found a pair of late goals to take the win.After a goalless first half, Danilo Asprilla took care of a Yarden Shua cross to take a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute, while Ion Nicolaescu added an insurance marker just minutes later to wrap up Beitar’s victory.

“It was difficult, which has been the story of the season,” Beitar coach Yossi Abukasis said. It’s great that we won the game after a tough period of time. This team battles for every ball right from the start of the game and that is our base.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem took care of struggling Maccabi Netanya 2-0 as Cedric Don scored a late brace to give the Reds the three points on the road.

Following a goalless first half, Don came off the right flank and beat Itamar Nitzan to make it 1–0 in the 81st minute, while he scored his second deep into injury time to double the advantage and seal the win.

“I want to really commend Maccabi Netanya as they were very tough to play against,” said Hapoel Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie. “This was a big win. Cedric Don is a youth player and I told him to help out on his side of the pitch defensively, but on the attack I asked him to go into the goal areas due to his speed.”

Also, Hapoel Beersheba and Ness Ziona played to a 1-1 draw as the sides split the points in the southern capital.Levan Kutilia was yanked down in the box by Miguel Vitor and scored on the ensuing penalty, shocking the hosts, but Rotem Hatuel found the back of the goal in the 65th minute for Beersheba to earn a point.

“This was a disappointing result,” Beersheba coach Elyaniv Barda said. “The opening 30 minutes were the worst of the season to date. We improved after that, but once again we had to concede in order to begin to play. It’s not good to not win at home no matter who the opponent is.”

“A point in Beersheba for a team like Ness Ziona is like winning the championship,” a content Nir Berkovic said. “They are a terrific team and balanced so this is a fantastic accomplishment for our team... If we would have been a bit more focused we could have even won 2-1.”

 HAPOEL BEERSHEBA (in red) got off to a slow start at home vs Ness Ziona, but managed to rally in the second half to earn a 1-1 Premier League draw. (credit: DANNY MARON) HAPOEL BEERSHEBA (in red) got off to a slow start at home vs Ness Ziona, but managed to rally in the second half to earn a 1-1 Premier League draw. (credit: DANNY MARON)

Ashdod SC stunned 10-man Hapoel Haifa 4-0 as the port city side scored a pair of goals in each half to dominate the game and send the fans home happy with the victory.

Liran Sardel picked up two yellow cards in the first half for reckless tackles, which left the Carmel Reds down a man for the balance of the game.

The hosts took full advantage of the situation immediately.

Mohammed K’naan scored from the penalty spot in the 38th minute while Abdul Zakaria Mugees added a marker right at the strike of halftime for a 2-0 lead.

Ebenezer Mamatah took care of a poor Ohad Levita clearance while Samuel Alabi joined the party in the 80th minute to finish off the blowout victory.

“It’s a great feeling,” an excited Ashdod bench boss Ran Ben Shimon commented. “We needed and we wanted to win after last week when the victory slipped right through our fingers. We have been playing well lately and it was not great that even though we were playing well we weren’t winning. That is why this victory was very important for us.”“This was a failure of a match for us from the first minute,” Haifa coach Nir Klinger said. “We had no motivation and the red card was a result of a late tackle. We planned one thing but what occurred in reality was totally different. This was a big hit for us, but we have to recover and move on.”

At Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Bnei Reineh 2-0 as the Reds scored a pair of second-half goals to take the win.

After a scoreless first half, Dan Einbinder broke the ice in the 62nd minute, while Alen Ozbolt scored the Reds second less than five minutes later to close out the triumph.

“The win is most important above all,” Hapoel coach Slobodan Drapic said following the game. “This team hadn’t won in a while and we needed this result. We had been supporting one another and I hope that this win will give us a breath of fresh air. Every point is important and to take three and not concede that is an added bonus.”