Haifa drops to fifth place after another setback

Loss to Kiryat Shmona puts Greens a massive 14 points behind defending-champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Hapoel Haifa players celebrate victory over Maccabi 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Haifa players celebrate victory over Maccabi 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa lost further ground on the Premier League’s pacesetters on Sunday night, losing 2-1 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
The Greens looked to have recovered from their disastrous start to the season after recording four straight wins. However, they could only manage a draw against lowly Hapoel Ramat Hasharon last week and find themselves a massive 14 points behind defending-champion Maccabi Tel Aviv following Sunday’s setback.
Alon Turgeman handed Haifa the lead with a clinical finish in the 43rd minute, only for Ofir Mizrahi to equalize in first-half stoppage time after a melee in the Haifa box.
Barak Badash headed in the winner against the run of play in the 68th minute to lift Kiryat Shmona up to fourth place ahead of Haifa.
Earlier Sunday, Israel national team assistant coach Yossi Abuksis was named as Bnei Yehuda’s new boss. Abuksis led Bnei Yehuda to a third-place finish in the 2011/12 season before leaving to coach Hapoel Tel Aviv.
He hasn’t guided a club side since he was sacked by the reds in February after a poor run of results. Bnei Yehuda, which has been without a head coach since Dror Kashtan resigned three weeks ago, is rooted to the bottom of the standings after picking up just two points from its past 13 matches, falling to a 1-0 loss at Ashdod SC on Saturday for its fifth straight defeat.
Also Sunday, referees Ziv Adler, Daniel Bar-Natan and Nissan Davidi were suspended from officiating this coming weekend after breaching the regulations during Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 5-0 victory over Hapoel Acre on Saturday.
Bar-Natan reversed his decision to award Acre a penalty seven minutes from halftime after being told to do so by fourth official Adler, who reviewed the incident in a TV replay, which is not allowed according to current FIFA regulations.
After initially denying the claims, the referees admitted on Sunday to breaking the rules, explaining that they wanted to make sure they made the right decision.
Besides the suspension, the referees’ association also recommended on Sunday that the three not be allowed to officiate any professional matches in the next three weeks.