Maccabi Haifa dominated Beitar Jerusalem 3-0 in the capital city on Monday night to maintain first place in the Israel Premier League.
Barak Bachar’s squad took advantage of a trio of yellow-and-black defensive errors as well as an early second-half sending off of Oral Dagani to notch the win.
The Greens grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute when Dolev Haziza scored off an errant back-pass by Beitar Jerusalem’s Santiago Ocampos, while Tjaron Chery made Ori Magbo pay for coughing up the ball near the box by doubling the advantage early in the second half.
Veteran Jerusalem defender Tal Ben Haim added insult to injury with an error of his own when he sent a pass right to the Haifa attackers, which allowed Godsway Donyoh the opportunity to score his second goal in as many games in the 53rd minute.
If things couldn’t get any worse for Beitar, just two minutes later Dagani was issued a straight red card for a dangerous and reckless tackle on Chery that essentially wrapped up the victory for Haifa.
“This wasn’t an easy game to come and play in Jerusalem, but we controlled the pace of play and took the win,” said a satisfied Bachar. “We have a deep squad; whoever is good and in shape will play and those who aren’t won’t.”
Beitar associate coach Shay Barda reflected on the lopsided defeat.
“We began the game well with a lot of energy and desire, but we made a mistake and gave up an early goal,” explained Barda. “The second half was a totally different story. We made two more mistakes and gave up goals and then there was a red card. I can’t even describe what is going on.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv slipped by Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 as red-hot striker Aleksandar Pesic scored the lone goal of the game to give the yellow-and-blue the three points.
Tal Ben Chaim raced down the left flank and sent a perfect ball to Pesic, who nodded into the goal as Patrick van Leeuwen’s team held on for the win and remained on the heels of leader Maccabi Haifa.
Maccabi will now prepare for Thursday’s night first leg of the Europa League round-of-32 tie against Israeli starlet Manor Solomon and Shakhtar Donetsk.
“I thought the first half was very well played and we created a lot of opportunities,” said van Leeuwen. “We had more chances to score but we didn’t do it. We made our own problems in the second half as we slowed down. We have to recover now for an important and difficult game against Shakhtar Donetsk.”
Kfar Saba coach Elisha Levy put his team’s loss in perspective.
“We had a very tough time in creating chances against a team like Maccabi,” said Levy. “The players gave it their all, but it was a very difficult game. Even with a good defensive game we still needed more.”
Also, Hapoel Beersheba drew 2-2 with Hapoel Haifa to split the points at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
The Southern Reds took a two-goal lead in the first half, but the hosts came storming back with a pair of second-half tallies to salvage a point.
Tomer Yosefi headed home the first goal in the 23rd minute while Rotem Hatuel beat Haifa ’keeper Ran Kadosh five minutes later to jump out to a 2-0 advantage.
However, Niso Capiloto cut the lead in the 76th minute, and five minutes later Ruslan Barsky sent a magnificent pass to William Agada, who found the back of the goal to tie up the game.
“This was a game of two halves,” began Beersheba’s interim coach Eliyaniv Barda. “We had an excellent first half where we created opportunities and scored goals. But in the second half we went backwards and gave them chances.”
Haifa coach Haim Silvas was happy with the point, but rued his side’s early struggles.
“We are disappointed because we want to win every home game,” said Silvas. “We put ourselves into a deep home in the first half and then we started playing properly. It’s fun to watch Hapoel Haifa matches and there are plenty of goals, but we aren’t able to win and that is frustrating.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Hadera downed Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 on a massive error by ’keeper Arik Yanko to hand the hosts the win.
Tomer Levi sent a harmless back-pass to Yanko, however the shot-stopper in turn put the ball on Shoval Gozlan’s foot, who put it right into the goal for the lone strike of the game, handing Menachem Koretzky’s team the points.
“This was a huge win, a massive victory,” said an excited Koretzky following the game. “We should have won by more and we need to learn how to kill the game. The players battled and fought hard and we are very happy about that.”
“We controlled the pace of play for the most part but we had very few chances,” said a disappointed Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon. “When you don’t attack the opponent especially when they are wasting time then the responsibility is on you, and we just didn’t do what we needed to.”
Maccabi Netanya moved into fifth place by overwhelming Ironi Kiryat Shmona 4-1 in the northern capital.
The visitors scored a pair of first-half goals, by Aboubacar Doumbia and Fernand Goure, but Roie Kehat cut the advantage just ahead of the break.
However, Lameck Banda and Gady Kanichowsky found the back of the goal in the second half to allow Netanya to cruise to the victory.
“It’s a good feeling and I believe that we prepared well,” said Dan Roman, who was filling in as coach for the suspended Raymond Atteveld. “We knew exactly what our game plan was and the players were just terrific.”
Ashdod SC and Bnei Sakhnin played to a dry goalless draw by the port city as each side picked up a point, while Hapoel Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda split the points in a game that ended without a tally at Bloomfield Stadium.