Hap TA crushes Greens, back in second

Igiebor, Damari lead Reds to 4-1 conquest at Bloomfield; Mac Haifa still tied for 5th place.

Hapoel Tel Aviv against Maccabi Haifa 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv against Maccabi Haifa 390
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After a disastrous week, Hapoel Tel Aviv climbed back to second place in the Premier League standings on Monday night with an impressive 4-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium.
Hapoel entered the match in a miserable mood after being deducted three points on Sunday following the violence of its fans in last week’s 1-0 derby defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Haifa, on the other hand, was brimming with confidence and had second place in its sights after winning five of its previous seven games.
However, it was Hapoel which dominated proceedings on Monday, with Haifa’s Idan Vered (48) canceling out Mirko Oremus’s (26) opener only momentarily before Nosa Igiebor (55, 87) and Omer Damari (90) clinched an emphatic win for the Reds.
There was little to report until the 20th minute of the match when referee Meir Levy pointed to the penalty spot to everyone’s amazement, spotting a handball by Haifa defender Edin Cocalic.
Even Hapoel couldn't believe it had been awarded a spot kick and perhaps that led to Walid Badier’s poor effort, duly saved by goalkeeper Nir Davidovich.
However, the 1,000 Hapoel fans which traveled to Kiryat Eliezer despite their team’s depressing week, didn’t have to wait long to celebrate the opener, with Damari doing all the hard work on the left flank, leaving Oremus with the simple task of tucking the ball in from close range.
The visitors continued to dominate the proceedings for the remainder of the first half and should have extended their lead, with Damari squandering a chance he would expect to make 10 times out of 10 in the 30th minute, firing straight at Davidovich with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Haifa coach Elisha Levy made a double substitution at halftime and the introduction of Idan Vered and Weaam Amasha made all the difference.
Three minutes after the break, Amasha crossed the ball for Vered, who controlled it with his chest before blasting in the equalizer with his left foot.
Haifa continued to push forward and it seemed to be only a matter of time until the hosts would complete a comeback.
However, Kiryat Eliezer would go silent in the 55th minute, with Haifa’s defense not coping with Shay Abutbul’s corner, allowing Igiebor to put Hapoel back in front despite fluffing his shot from close range.
Igiebor’s goal took all the wind out of Haifa’s sails, and with captain Yaniv Katan missing the match following his sister’s passing on Sunday, the hosts had very little to offer.
Hapoel ’keeper Apoula Edel had to be alert to clear Jurica Buljat’s header in the 75th minute, but he had little work otherwise and Tel Aviv ran riot in the final 10 minutes.
The visitors needed just four touches of the ball to score their third, with Edel’s goal kick being sent through to Igiebor via Damari and the Nigerian controlling it with one touch before slotting beyond Davidovich.
After setting up two goals, Damari also got in on the act of scoring in the 90th minute, easily firing in his 15th league goal of the season to bring much needed cheer to a previously despondent club.