Three goals in less than 10 minutes did in the Reds very quickly as Omer Atzily scored a quick brace to help the Greens cruise to the victory.
Tjaron Chery opened the scoring as a poor clearance by Stefan Marinovic made its way right to Atzily, who sent the ball to the Surinamese international to blast it past the helpless ’keeper for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
Dean David made his way onto the scoresheet five minutes later while Atzily then scored his first of two goals in the 20th minute for a 3-0 Haifa advantage.
Ten minutes later Lavi set up Atzily for his second of the match, but Dan Einbinder pulled one back for Tel Aviv via penalty ahead of the halftime break.
Barak Bachar’s squad wasn’t done yet, though, as Muhammed Abu Fani picked up a goal in the 64th minute while Raz Twizer scored late for Hapoel just before the game came to an end.
“The first 30 minutes were all Haifa and we gave up goals that we shouldn’t have, and that was the game,” Hapoel coach Slobodan Drapic explained. “We had issues defensively and we made three mistakes and they scored on all three of those chances. When you make mistakes like we did you will pay the price.”
“The break is coming just at the right time despite winning the game,” Haifa coach Bachar said. “The players are exhausted and we have many injuries. We wanted to make sure that we sent the message out that we are good enough in order to head into the break with a win and I am happy that we did just that.”
“The players are exhausted and we have many injuries. We wanted to make sure that we sent the message out that we are good enough in order to head into the break with a win and I am happy that we did just that.”Haifa coach Bachar
Hapoel Beersheba downed Ironi Kiryat Shmona
Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba downed Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-0 up in the northern capital to take the three points and keep pace with table leader Maccabi Haifa.
An active Ramzi Safouri found goal machine Rotem Hatuel to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute while Sagiv Yehezkel’s 89th-minute attempt from a tough angle made its way into the back of the Kiryat Shmona goal to hand Elyaniv Barda’s side the win.
“This pitch has caused plenty of issues for us in the past,” Barda commented. “Against a team like Kiryat Shmona, who are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, it will always be tough but I am happy that we took the points.”
It took almost 98 minutes, but Maccabi Tel Aviv finally found a way to break through the Hapoel Haifa defense as Djorde Jovanovic scored to give the yellow-and-blue the win by the skin of its teeth.
Vladen Ivic’s squad had numerous chances throughout the game, but it took deep into second-half injury time for Jovanovic to break through. The Serbian striker took a terrific pass from Derrick Luckassen at the top of the box with his back to the goal, spun to his right and placed a perfect ball through a pair of defenders and into the far left corner to give Maccabi the hard-earned victory.
Beitar Jerusalem mounted a late comeback
In the capital, Beitar Jerusalem mounted a late comeback as Danilo Asprilla scored a brace to snatch a 2-1 win over Bnei Sakhnin at Teddy Stadium.
Guy Melamed pounced on a rebound off a Beram Kayal scorcher that went off the bar to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute. However, with the Beitar fans pushing their side, Asprilla took a Yarden Shua through ball into the box and scored from in close to draw even at 1-1 in the 67th minute.
Just over 10 minutes later, the same duo came through again, as Shua sent a perfect ball to Asprilla, who headed home the winner to take the points.
“This was a game of two halves,” Beitar coach Yossi Abukasis said. “Sakhnin controlled the first half but we had a superb second half and I am very happy with how we played. We have plenty to work on and we have a good team. We are focused on our defensive game and we will enjoy the win, but now we have to already think about the first match after the break.”
Maccabi Netanya defeated Ashdod SC
Elsewhere, Maccabi Netanya defeated Ashdod SC 3-2 as Igor Zlatanovic scored in a brace in a barnburner of a game by the port city.
Omri Gendelman headed home a Liron Rotman corner kick in the fifth minute to give the visitors the lead while Zlatanovic scored a quick pair of goals as Rotman and Shai Konstantin assisted on the brace to give Netanya a 3-0 lead ahead of the halftime break.
Yakov Brihen pulled back a goal via a 71st minute penalty and Adir Levy cut the lead to just one goal in the 91st minute, but it was too little, too late for the hosts as Ran Kojok’s squad wrapped up the victory.
Kojok, who took over the reins from Benny Lam, is still perfect on the Netanya bench and spoke about his experience in charge so far.
“I have always been appreciated at this club and I am a person that will do everything I can in my power to help. The results so far are from very hard work and the DNA of Netanya is passion. We played great near the end of the first half, but in the second half we were taught a lesson. We have to keep up with our passion, modesty and hard work as this is in our DNA in order to succeed.”
Hapoel Jerusalem blanked Bnei Reineh
In the Galilee, Hapoel Jerusalem blanked Bnei Reineh 2-0 to collect the points on the road.
After a goalless first half, Ziv Arie’s squad finally broke the deadlock when Ondrej Baco scored from the top of the box with a left-footed strike in the 69th minute, while less than a quarter-hour later Jordan Botaka sent a scorcher into the Reineh goal to wrap up the victory.
“It was very important to win this game after two losses,” Arie said. “We finished the first round of games with 23 points which was our goal. This was tough game against a very good team and the match could have gone one way or another, but we were able to take the win ahead of the World Cup break.”
Also, Hapoel Hadera and Sektzia Nes Ziona played to a dry goalless draw as the two sides split the points.“This was a very poor game and I am upset for the fans that were here and those who watched it on TV,” Hadera coach Asaf Nimni said.
“We were tired, we took four points this week and now we have a break to rest up and prepare for the next round of games after the World Cup. As well as we have played, I am not even looking at the idea of making it to the Championship playoffs. Our goal is to stay in the league."