Crisis mode: Maccabi falls 3-0 in Acre

Yellow-and-blue listless in second straight loss; KS tied (for now) at top.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer Sad 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer Sad 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Matters went from bad to worse for Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday night after it suffered a humbling 3-0 Premier League defeat at Hapoel Acre.
After setting the pace at the start of the season with five wins from its first six matches, Maccabi has completely lost its way in recent weeks, picking up just five of a possible 18 points from its last six encounters.
Tel Aviv was completely outplayed by the overachieving Acre on Saturday, with the hosts leapfrogging the yellow-and-blue into third place in the standings with a victory that extended their unbeaten streak to six matches.
“This was one big disgrace,” said Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir, whose team fell behind to Nisso Kapiloto’s 12th minute goal and was left with 10 men when defender Roberto Puncec was sent off in the 41st minute. “We can’t ignore the fact that we were left with 10 men, but any way you look at the match it was a big disgrace. I’m very sad to be part of such a defeat, but I’m the coach and I shoulder all the responsibility.”
If things weren’t bad enough, Maccabi hosts league-leader Hapoel Tel Aviv next week, with the Reds having the opportunity to open a six-point gap over their arch-rivals with a win over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon on Sunday.
“We didn’t look like a team tonight,” Ivanir said. “When you are in such a bad state any match is difficult, not to mention a derby. But perhaps a big game is what we need at the moment.”
Acre went ahead in the 12th minute after Maccabi’s shambolic defense failed to clear Guy Dayan’s free kick, with Kapiloto scoring against the team that sent him to Acre on loan for the season.
Tel Aviv never really came close to equalizing, and it was in dire straits in the 41st minute when Puncec was sent off after being shown his second yellow card in three minutes for tugging at Geva Barkai’s shirt in the box.
Dayan’s subsequent penalty was saved by Barak Levy, but Nicolas Falczuk took advantage of another Maccabi defensive blunder to secure the three points 11 minutes into the second half before Stefan Scepovic piled the misery on the visitors with a third goal seven minutes from time.
“Our win was never in doubt,” Acre’s underappreciated coach Eli Cohen said. “We played with confidence, reaching plenty of chances, and we recorded a deserved win.”
Ironi Kiryat Shmona moved tied on 23 points with Hapoel Tel Aviv earlier Saturday, claiming a 1-0 victory over Bnei Yehuda at Shchunat Hatikva.
Shir Tzedek scored the only goal of the match with a header in the 13th minute, giving Kiryat Shmona its fifth win in six games.
Maccabi Netanya returned to winning ways in impressive fashion on Saturday, crushing the sorry Hapoel Rishon Lezion 6-2.
Gal Sapir’s own goal gave the hosts the lead in the 25th minute, but Rishon, now winless in its last 10 matches, turned the game on its head with goals from Dudu Avraham (28) and Yinon Barda (33).
However, Ahmed Saba equalized on the stroke of halftime with a penalty, with Hen Ezra putting Netanya back in the lead two minutes into the second half before goals from Saba (51), Kobi Dajani (59) and Ezra (68) completed the rout.
Ashdod SC climbed to fifth place on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Hapoel Petah Tikva, with Nir Biton scoring the winner in the 64th.
Bnei Sakhnin defeated Hapoel Haifa 2-1 on the road, with Kostadin Hazurov (21) and Khaled Khalaila (56 penalty) scoring for the winners, while Stefan Denkovic (79) netted for Haifa, which ended the match with nine players.
Also Saturday, the struggling Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Petah Tikva drew 0-0.
Betar Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Haifa at the renovated Teddy Stadium on Monday.