Atar still under pressure after another setback

Maccabi Haifa only manages 1-1 at Ramat Hasharon; Betar, Sakhnin draw.

Dino Ndlovu (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Dino Ndlovu
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Reuven Atar’s position as Maccabi Haifa coach remained up in the air on Saturday night after the Greens could only manage a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, leaving the team on a single win through nine Premier League matches.
All the talk ahead of the encounter was about Atar’s decision to drop captain Yaniv Katan from the squad. The insulted Katan called owner Jacob Shahar to notify him of the news, while Atar released a statement on Saturday morning to clarify that the captain was left out due to the fact that he had suffered from a virus during the week.
Haifa took the lead in the 27th minute through Dekel Keinan’s volley from Hen Ezra’s corner, but with or without Katan, the Greens have largely played shockingly poor soccer this season and Saturday was no different.
Asi Baldut equalized from the penalty spot in the 37th minute and Haifa recorded its fourth draw of the season to go with its four defeats and sole victory.
“I was very happy with the squad’s commitment today and I’m disappointed that after such an effort we didn’t win,” said Atar. “I have a lot of respect for Katan and he will contribute to the team in the future.”
Betar Jerusalem’s winning streak was snapped on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at Bnei Sakhnin.
As ever, tensions were running high ahead of the showdown between the two bitter rivals in the wet Doha Stadium.
The Sakhnin fans were flying high when Yero Bello gave the hosts the lead in the 14th minute, but Betar picked up a deserved point and extended its unbeaten streak to five matches thanks to Avi Rikan’s goal in the 48th minute.
Sakhnin ended the match with nine players after Bello was sent off in the 88th minute for making an indecent gesture towards the Betar bench while Khaled Khalaila was shown a second yellow (92) for an impulsive foul.
Hapoel Haifa finally recorded its first win of the season on Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 2-1 in extremely dramatic fashion.
Ashdod seemed set to move top of the standings for at least 24 hours after Murad Abu Anza gave it the lead in the 58th minute.
However, Haifa, which had picked up just three points from its first eight games of the campaign, turned the match on its head with two goals at the death.
Vladimir Gluscevic equalized in the 91st minute and Fabian Stoller gave the hosts a memorable win with a 93rd-minute header.
Bnei Yehuda moved up to fourth place on Saturday, beating Maccabi Netanya 3-0 through Ido Levy’s own goal (16) and strikes from Shalev Menashe (43) and Oz Raly (54).
Hapoel Beersheba registered its seventh draw in nine matches on Saturday, drawing 2-2 at Hapoel Acre thanks to Tomer Swisa’s 95th minute penalty.
Ohad Kadusi (31, 45) gave the hosts a comfortable cushion, but Roei Kehat (77) got Beersheba back into the game and Swisa scored with the final kick of the night.
League-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Hapoel Tel Aviv in the much-hyped derby on Sunday, while Hapoel Ramat Gan welcomes Ironi Kiryat Shmona.