Haifa crisis deepens with loss to Ashdod

Greens still winless after four matches, perfect Ashdod tops table.

MACCABI HAIFA'S Hen Ezra 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa’s start to the season went from bad to worse on Saturday, with the Greens dropping to a 1-0 home defeat to Ashdod SC at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Haifa was regarded as one of the title favorites just a few weeks ago, but it has only picked up a single point from its four matches so far, marking its worse start to a league campaign in 44 years.
Haifa managed to finish that season in fifth place, but Reuven Atar’s men began 2012/13 with much higher expectations and already find themselves 11 points behind league-leader Ashdod, which made it four wins out of four with Saturday’s victory.
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv can also move 11 points clear of what was supposed to be their main rival for the championship.
Hapoel visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon on Sunday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday, with the northerners brimming with confidence after claiming a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao in their Europa League Group I opener on Thursday.
David Revivo scored the only goal of the match in Haifa after his long-distance strike, just one of two shots the visitors registered on target, took a deflection off Dekel Keinan, leaving goalkeeper Amir Edri helpless and giving Ashdod its first win over Maccabi in Kiryat Eliezer since 1994.
“I never believed we would begin the season like this,” said Atar, who arrived at Haifa amidst much hype, but has seen his tenure get off to a nightmare start.
“We played superbly in our first matches, but lost. Now we are also playing without confidence. This is very disappointing.
I can only apologize.”
Haifa is one of five teams still without a win four matches into the season.
Betar Jerusalem’s disappointing start to the campaign continued on Saturday with a 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Acre at Teddy Stadium, with Amaya Taga heading in the winner in the 67th minute.
Bnei Sakhnin begins another week rock bottom of the standings after a 3-1 home loss to Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Oz Yifrah (6), David Manga (36) and Israel Zaguri (86) scored for Ramat Gan, with Obayda Zbidat (90) netting a meaningless consolation goal for Sakhnin, which has already conceded 11 goals this season.
Maccabi Netanya claimed its second straight win on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 2-1 to hand the southerners their first loss of the campaign.
Beersheba’s Nicolas Falczuk (20) canceled out Idan Shriki’s opener (16), but Yossi Shivhon scored the winner in the 26th minute after some excellent build up play by Ahmed Saba.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda got back to winning ways, defeating Hapoel Haifa 3-1 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Shalev Menashe (3), Kestutis Ivaskevicius (68) and Nenad Marinkovic (88) scored for Bnei Yehuda, with Vladimir Gluscevic (17) netting for the sorry Haifa.