Greens rolling again after win at Petah Tikva

Maccabi Haifa blanks hosts for first win since August; Hapoel Beersheba suffers first loss.

Hen Ezra’S of Maccabi Haifa 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hen Ezra’S of Maccabi Haifa 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After almost two months without a win and three Premier League matches without a goal, Maccabi Haifa got back on track on Saturday night, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0 at the Moshava Stadium.
Since defeating Ironi Kiryat Shmona in its league opener way back in August 25, Haifa had gone winless in seven matches in all competitions, four in local league action and three in continental play.
In four of Haifa’s past five games, it didn’t even manage to score a single goal, including in its past three Premier League contests.
However, after recording two consecutive 0-0 deadlocks against Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Beersheba and being steamrolled 3-0 by Maccabi Tel Aviv, Haifa finally returned to winning ways on Saturday, comfortably beating Petah Tikva.
A sensational solo effort by Hen Ezra in the 23rd minute finally broke Haifa’s scoring drought, with the midfielder picking the ball up at the halfway line and surging towards Petah Tikva’s goal unchallenged before finding the back of the net with an accurate finish past goalkeeper Neil Abarbanel.
It took just six more minutes for Haifa to double its advantage, with the unlucky Shmulik Malul heading the ball into his own net.
Haifa took its foot off the gas after that, but substitute Shlomi Azulai still scored the team’s third goal in the 78th minute, 14 minutes after Pedro Galvan left Petah Tikva with 10 men following an unsporting foul on Avihai Yadin.
“We knew that if we don’t win tonight it might be too late for us,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado. “We have a strong team and we proved that today.”
Hapoel Beersheba dropped to its first defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 2- 0 at home to Kiryat Shmona.
Dean Maimoni (17) gave the northerners the lead and David Manga (53) scored Kiryat Shmona’s second goal after Beersheba defender Ben Biton gifted him the ball in the center of the box.
Beersheba ended the match with nine men, with Bojan Markovic (77) being sent off after receiving a second yellow card and William Soares (79) being shown a straight red card for striking Ahmed Abed in the face.
Hapoel Ra’anana also suffered its first defeat of the campaign on Saturday, losing 3-1 to Hapoel Acre. Ra’anana lost Anthony Nwakaeme to a red card in the 22nd minute and Elior Syder (24), Guy Dayan (34) and Steven Cohen (52) scored for Acre before Guy Lipka (71) netted a consolation goal.
Following the losses by Beersheba and Ra’anana, league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Sakhnin are the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the league, with the latter defeating Ashdod SC 2-1 on Saturday.
David Solari (34) gave Ashdod the lead from the penalty spot, only for Mohamed Kalibat (50) and Firas Mugrabi (63) to turn the match on its head.
Bnei Yehuda suffered its fifth straight defeat on Saturday, losing 2-1 at Hapoel Haifa.
Or Osteind (11) and Nebojsa Marinkovic (55) found the back of the net for Haifa, with Oz Raly (23) scoring for Bnei Yehdua.
On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv can open a three-point cushion at the top when it hosts Hapoel Ramat Hasharon. Beitar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv to Teddy Stadium on Monday night.