Wild weekend of soccer action across the country

Mac TA rallies to eke by Hapoel Haifa • Beersheba edges K8 • Netanya overcomes Petah Tikva

MACCABI TEL AVIV players celebrate at the end of their enthralling 4-3 comeback victory over Hapoel Haifa on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium. (photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
MACCABI TEL AVIV players celebrate at the end of their enthralling 4-3 comeback victory over Hapoel Haifa on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium.
(photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
In Israel Premier League play over the weekend, Maccabi Tel Aviv outlasted Hapoel Haifa 4-3 in a thriller of a match on Sunday night as Yonatan Cohen’s 93rd-minute penalty goal gave the yellow-and-blue the three points.
Hapoel Haifa opened the scoring with a pair of goals within five minutes to take a 2-0 lead on Gal Arel’s penalty and Hanan Maman’s strike, however Cohen pulled a goal back for Maccabi before the break.
Aleksandar Pesic headed home an Eyal Golasa cross in the 58th minute, but Saar Fadida put Haifa back in front 3-2 with just three minutes remaining in regulation time as Haim Silvas’s squad looked to have taken the victory.
However, out of nowhere Avi Rikan found the equalizer in the 90th minute and Cohen slammed home a late injury-time penalty as Giorgos Donis’s team miraculously earned the conquest.
After such an emotional and draining game, Donis had mixed feelings.
“For the fans it was amazing, but for me I don’t know how many years I lost of my life. We still have to work very hard and strong on defense. The game was a disaster defensively, but we had great spirit. We have to find a solution and work with our defenders.”
Haifa coach Silvas couldn’t hide his disappointment with the final result.
“This was one of the toughest games I have ever been a part of. We hit the post a couple of times, scored three goals and still left without a point from Bloomfield Stadium. It was just very disappointing.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba downed Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-1 thanks to an Anthony Varenne first-half brace.
Sintayehu Sallallich found Varenne with a quick pass in the 12th minute as the striker found the back of the goal to give Yossi Abukasis’s squad the lead, while the duo teamed up again for the second goal 18 minutes later to double the advantage.
Lucio headed home a 57th-minute corner, but that was all Koby Refuah’s side could muster as Beersheba snatched the three points.
“We didn’t start the game off well,” explained Abuksis. “But we got the win, which is what’s most important, and I hope that we can continue this way because if we want to go to the top we have to win our next game.”
Varenne also reflected on his two-goal performance.
“I’m happy that I scored a brace and I hope that I can keep this up. We didn’t have it easy today, but we won which was crucial after a good Europa League campaign.”
“I believe we really missed an opportunity in this game,” said Refuah. “We were too nice, but we have to move on. We have to keep improving with hard work.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Hadera demolished Bnei Yehuda 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium as Shoval Gozlan’s brace helped the club take all the points.
Gozlan opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he took advantage of a Tambi Sagas mistake and beat Bnei Yehuda ’keeper Omer Niron to give Sharon Mimer’s squad a 1-0 lead.
Just before the break, Gilad Avramov was instrumental in a pair of goals as Gustavo Marmentini blew by the Bnei Yehuda defense for the first and then Avramov assisted on Gozlan’s second of the game to sew up the victory before halftime.
“I have to credit the players for their energy and fight in the win,” said an ecstatic Mimer. “We have a solid team here and it’s just unfortunate that we got hit with the coronavirus earlier in the season that cost us some games. We will now take advantage of our quality as we are as good as at least 10 teams in this league.”
Gozlan was content with his performance.
“After a long time being out and in a challenging season, it’s great to come back and score. We have to continue and push forward as we gave some quality players here.”
“We made every possible mistake today,” said Bnei Yehuda coach Kfir Edri. “Even when I was a player I don’t recall such a poor game. We gave out so many gifts it’s a miracle that we didn’t lose by more goals.”
Also, Maccabi Netanya defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-2 in a crazy game as Hen Ezra broke the deadlock in the second half to give Raymond Atteveld’s squad the points.
Aviv Avraham gave Netanya and early 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when his long-distance strike made it into the far corner, while Yonas Malede doubled the advantage with a penalty deep into first-half stoppage time.
However, Petah Tikva came roaring back with a 50th-minute goal by Liel Abada when he chipped the ball over a helpless Dani Amos and less than 10 minutes later Or Blorian headed home an Or Inbrun corner kick to draw even at 2-2.
But Ezra found the winner for Netanya in the 67th minute when his ball went off a Petah Tikva defender and behind Arik Yanko to hand his side the victory.
“We played well the last few weeks but we couldn’t score,” said Atteveld. “We let Petah Tikva come back into the game with some foolish mistakes and it was a real battle after that. We have worked very hard on our finishing near the goal and that’s what we did to take the win.”
Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon looked back on the defeat and took a positive approach.
“We may have lost, but I am proud as to how the guys played. We played good soccer, passed the ball and knew how to stay in the game despite being down by a couple of goals.”
Ashdod SC slipped by Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 to continue its winning ways on Moussa Bagayoko’s 23rd-minute goal as Ran Ben Shimon’s club took the points.
Following the game Kfar Saba coach Amir Turgeman was relieved of his duties.