Maccabi Haifa claims opening conquest of Hapoel Tel Aviv
“Hapoel is a good team. We were very well organized in the first half but we were far more positive in the second half. We took the game to them."
By ALLON SINAI
Maccabi Haifa got life under new coach Rene Meulensteen off to a winning start on Monday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 at Haifa Stadium in their Premier League opener.The 52-year-old Dutchman, who served as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United between 2008 and 2013, only joined Haifa two weeks ago and will be expecting his team to play far better going forward.However, he was more than happy to settle for the slender win on Monday, with Dutch striker Glynor Plet scoring the only goal of the match in the 55th minute.“We knew it would be a very difficult game,” said Meulensteen.“Hapoel is a good team. We were very well organized in the first half but we were far more positive in the second half. We took the game to them."“We scored a goal and we had opportunities to put the game to bed. Unfortunately we didn’t, but I’m very pleased with the win.”Hapoel controlled the possession in the first half, but created little with it. Haifa’s disjointed play meant that Hapoel goalkeeper Ariel Harush was essentially out of work in the first half, but the hosts would score with their first real chance 10 minutes after the break.Firas Mugrabi did all the hard work and Plet scored into an empty net after Roei Kehat’s header came off the crossbar.The opener gave Haifa the confidence it so desperately needed and the Greens would have doubled the lead shortly afterwards had they not been so wasteful in front of goal.A superb effort in the 66th minute deserved to end with the ball in the back of the net, but Plet couldn’t beat Harush, squandering Nikita Rukavytsya and Mugrabi’s excellent build-up.Hapoel needed another impressive Harush save from Kehat two minutes later to remain within striking distance, but it never came close to equalizing and Haifa celebrated its first win of the season.
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