Israeli soccer: Maccabi Haifa puts pressure on Beersheba

Yellow-and-blue edges Beitar • Hap TA, Hap Jerusalem draw at Bloomfield • Ashdod stays hot

 MACCABI TEL AVIV (in white) and Beitar Jerusalem dueled on Sunday night in the capital, with the visitors claiming a 2-1 victory after an exciting contest (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
MACCABI TEL AVIV (in white) and Beitar Jerusalem dueled on Sunday night in the capital, with the visitors claiming a 2-1 victory after an exciting contest
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Maccabi Haifa pummeled Hapoel Nof Hagalil 4-0 on Sunday night in Israel Premier League action as four different goal scorers found the back of the net to keep the Greens in the title hunt.

Omer Atzily headed home a Raz Meir ball to open the scoring in the first half while Dean David took a Jose Rodriguez through-ball and put it behind Stefan Marinovic for a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute.

Muhamed Abu Fani and Dolev Haziza each scored late in the game to wrap up the easy conquest.

“I really liked how the players came into this game,” said Haifa coach Barak Bachar.

“We played in a tough stadium against a very well-organized team and we were able to do what we needed to. We pressed and played well and we beat a pretty good team.”

 MACCABI HAIFA players celebrate after Omer Atzili’s stoppage-time tally secured a 3-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium. (credit: DANNY MARON) MACCABI HAIFA players celebrate after Omer Atzili’s stoppage-time tally secured a 3-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium. (credit: DANNY MARON)

In the capital city, Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 as Stipe Perica nodded home the winning goal to give the yellow-and-blue the valuable three points at Teddy Stadium.

Brandley Kuwas scored off a Ofir Kriaf miscue to give Barak Itzhaki’s squad an 1-0 lead, but Jerusalem’s Yarden Shua redirected a free kick behind Maccabi ’keeper Daniel Peretz to tie up the game at 1-1 ahead of halftime.

Perica then came to the rescue Tel Aviv with a header off an Ofir Davidzada cross to take the conquest.

“We were the better team,” said Itzhaki, Maccabi’s interim coach. “I’ve played here and I know what it’s like to play against Beitar the way they look now. They played well, but the better team won the game. We have a lot of games coming in and we have to split up the time between the players in order to successfully get through it.”

Gal Cohen, who is serving as Beitar’s interim coach, also reflected on his club’s effort.

“We didn’t succeed today, but I believe that we can collect some points as we really need them.”

At Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem played to an entertaining 1-1 draw to split the points.

Guy Hadida had a chance to put Jerusalem on the board in the 10th minute with a penalty, but his spot kick was saved by the Reds ’keeper Ernestas Setkus.

Jerusalem’s Awake Ashta was sent off with his second yellow card in the 33rd minute, but that didn’t stop Hadida for making amends on his penalty miss earlier in the game as he slotted home the ball from the spot just ahead of halftime after a handball was called in the box. However, Nir Klinger’s squad found the equalizer via Denny Gruper midway through the second half as each team earned a point.

“Sometimes there are games like this,” Klinger began his post-game remarks. “I believe that we tried everything that we could. Our first half was not good and in the second half we didn’t make intelligent enough plays in the last part of the field.”

“Other than two games this season, we stood toe to toe with everyone,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said. “I have mixed feelings after a game like this but a draw with a man down is a good result for us.”

Elsewhere, Ashdod SC blanked Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 to win its third game in a week by the exact same scoreline.

After downing Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Jerusalem, Ran Ben Shimon’s squad visited the Moshava Stadium and used a 72nd-minute strike by Fahad Bayo as he took care of a Kenny Saief through-ball to give Ashdod the three points as it swiftly continued its move up the table with nine points over the last seven days.

“We spoke about how this was going to an important game for Petah Tikva and we had a very bad first half,” said Ben Shimon. “We came into this game to win and we needed to just wait until the right moment and we did it. The players deserve a ton of credit and they have huge hearts.”

Meanwhile, Hapoel Hadera downed Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 as striker Shoval Gozlan scored a brace.

Gozlan broke a goalless deadlock just at the stroke of halftime when he headed home a Gustavo Marmentini corner kick for a 1-0 lead. Gozlan doubled the advantage in the 60th minute as Marmentini sent a perfect through-ball to the marksman, who made no mistake to help Hadera go up 2-0.

Mufleh Shalata pulled a goal back with a 20-meter scorcher in the 92nd minute, but the goal was too little, too late to help the visitors.

“I am happy that we moved yet another three points away from the relegation zone,” said Hadera coach Menachem Koretzky. “We didn’t take the last little while too hard when we weren’t playing our best as we were without a full squad. We are getting the maximum out of the players that are playing and we took some important points.”

Also, Ironi Kiryat Shmona downed Maccabi Netanya 2-1 as Ziv Morgan’s 94th-minute strike snatched the three points for the Northerners.

Aviv Avraham gave visiting Netanya a quick 1-0 lead with a second-minute goal, but Yadin Lugassi found the equalizer when he pounded home his own rebound right before the half-time break.

As the game wound down and it looked as if a split of the points was in the offing, Morgan scored the winner deep into second-half injury time to give K8 the win.

“We understand our situation and all of sudden we began playing quality soccer,” Kiryat Shmona head coach Slobodan Drapic explained. “We need to take as many points as we can and we feel that we can play better as well. I was already set on a 1-1 draw, but then out of nowhere we scored the winner and it was a real Hanukkah miracle.”