Surging Maccabi Haifa beats Hapoel Tel Aviv in thriller
However, in the 24th minute, Hapoel’s Adi Gotlieb pounded the ball home from inside the box past a helpless Guy Haimov to cut the gap to 2-1.
By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
In arguably one of the most entertaining games this season, Maccabi Haifa dropped Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-2 at Sammy Ofer Stadium on Monday night in Israel Premier League action.Muhamad Awad bagged a brace to give the Greens the three points in a first-half goal-fest. Awad opened scoring in the seventh minute via a header thanks to an Ernest Mabouka cross, while Nikita Rukavytsya turned the exact same trick off a Sintayehu Sallalich cross 12 minutes later to give Haifa a quick 2-0 lead.However, in the 24th minute, Hapoel’s Adi Gotlieb pounded the ball home from inside the box past a helpless Guy Haimov to cut the gap to 2-1.Haifa regained its two-goal lead in the 36th minute when Awad took advantage of a mistake by Reds ’keeper Robi Levkovich, but a game Hapoel immediately answered back. Ramzi Safouri launched a 20-meter scorcher to beat Haimov to pull within one goal, but that’s as close as the Reds would get as Haifa picked up the win.Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem took out Bnei Yehuda 2-0 to keep its championship playoff hopes alive.Yossi Benayoun sent a fantastic pass down the right side right to Freddy Plumain, who scored to give Beitar a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute. Dan Einbinder headed in Beitar’s second goal just one minute into the second half to help Nir Klinger’s squad take home the win and the three points.Benayoun was all smiles following the victory.Advertisement“This was an important win, but it’s only one game and we have to continue. I always have to be happy and content, but it took me time to get into the swing of things at Beitar after leaving Maccabi Petah Tikva.”Elsewhere, Hapoel Hadera defeated Ashdod 3-2 in the port city to take the three points. Newly acquired American midfielder George Fochive got the visitors off to a quick start, scoring just 45 seconds into the contest, thanks to an assist by Lucio.Hadera doubled its lead in the 18th minute when Eylon Almog, on loan from Maccabi Tel Aviv, headed home a brilliant cross by Dia Lababidi.Roie Gordana was inserted into the match by Ashdod Coach Moshe Ohayon and his introduction immediately paid dividends when he drew a free kick at the top of the box that Dan Bitton buried behind Haviv Ohayon in the 41st minute.Lucio gave Niso Avitan’s squad some breathing room in the 79th minute, scoring off a tremendous cross into the box by an active Lababidi. Issoumaila Lingane pulled a late injury-time goal back for Ashdod, but it was too little, too late as Hadera recorded the victory.Almog, who scored in his Premier League debut, was excited about his side’s win.“It’s a great feeling and I didn’t expect such a debut. I’m really happy to have come to such a wonderful place. My plan is to be a dominant player at Hadera and help ensure the team advances to the championship playoffs.”Also, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Haifa ended in a 1-1 draw at the Netanya Stadium.Enric Saborit found the back of the goal in the first half for Maccabi when he picked up the ball on his own side of the pitch, raced up field and scored from just outside of the Haifa box to give the yellow-and-blue a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute.However, the Carmel Reds began to take control of the contest as Gabriel Tamas scored the equalizer via a header in the 82nd minute off a pinpoint corner kick as the sides split the points.Hapoel Beersheba welcomed Maccabi Netanya to the southern capital as the sides drew 1-1, with both goals coming in the first half.Fatos Beciraj gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute on a wonderful individual effort as the striker beat Ohad Levita. But an officiating mistake by Eli Hachmon three minutes later handed Beersheba a penalty that Ben Sahar converted as each team picked up a point in the battle for a championship playoff spot.Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Sakhnin drew 2-2 in the northern capital. Ismail Riyan scored a 10th minute goal to give the hosts a 1-0, while 15 minutes later Mahran Radi leveled the score for Sakhnin.Mohammad Ghadir then gave the visitors a 2-1 advantage in the 82nd minute as he headed the ball behind Kiryat Shmona ’keeper Dziugas Bartkus, but just as the match hit injury time, Iyad Abu Abaid scored the equalizer from in close as each team recorded a point.Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Ra’anana each took a point in a 1-1 draw at the Moshava Stadium.Menachem Koretzky’s side was the better team from the get-go, but Petah Tikva found the back of the net first right before the break when Lidor Cohen sent a gorgeous cross to Issa Cissokho for a 1-0 lead.However, Eugene Ansah scored in the 69th minute for Ra’anana as the sides split the points.