Haifa edges Mac TA for 4th straight win

Greens claim 1-0 victory over yellow-and-blue, continue to close in on the summit.

Maccabi Haifa's Weeam Amasha and Maccabi TA's Eitan Tibe 370 (photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa's Weeam Amasha and Maccabi TA's Eitan Tibe 370
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa reignited its Premier League championship dreams on Monday night, defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium for its fourth consecutive victory.
Haifa was in danger of battling against relegation when Reuven Atar was sacked just one month ago, but the Greens have won all four of their matches since new coach Arik Benado took charge on a full-time basis and closed to within nine points of league leader Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv would have leapfrogged the Reds into first place had it avoided defeat at Kiryat Eliezer, but the yellow-and-blue was mediocre once more and its title challenge suffered a significant blow with its fourth defeat of the season on Monday.
“This is a very important win for us,” said Benado, who saw his team collect all three points thanks to Weeam Amasha’s 80th-minute winner.
“We played smart soccer and were tactically sound. Tel Aviv barely reached any chances. I’m very proud of this display. We have taken just one more step tonight, but we are moving in the right direction.”
Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia was understandably disappointed.
“I think it was a balanced game, but they had the luck to score,” Oscar said.
“We have to improve our defense in set pieces. We will continue to try and improve. I don’t care for the table now.
I will care with 6-7 games to play.”
Tel Aviv seemed content to settle for a point from the start, challenging Haifa to break through its defensive formation.
The Greens rarely managed to do so, with Gustavo Boccoli registering Haifa’s first real chance in the 22nd minute, forcing ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama to make a difficult save.
The veteran midfielder came centimeters from netting the opener seven minutes from halftime, surging into the box before beating Enyeama with his shot, only to see the ball come off the upright.
Haifa goalkeeper Bojan Saranov was out of work for much of the night, but he had to be alert to keep out Maharan Radi’s effort in the 41st minute.
Neither team showed much enterprise in the second half, but a crucial defensive lapse by Tel Aviv gifted Haifa all three points in the 80th minute.
The yellow-and-blue defense failed miserably in its attempt to clear Hen Ezra’s corner and Amasha tucked in the winner from the goal-line.
Tel Aviv threw everyone forward in search of an equalizer and almost got it in the fourth minute of stoppage time, only for Saranov to come up with a clutch save from Gael Marguelis’s close-range effort.