Hapoel snaps long drought in Haifa derby

Greens suffer shock 3-1 upset; Mac TA stems tide with draw; Ashdod tied for first place.

MACCABI HAIFA captain Yaniv Katan 311  (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
MACCABI HAIFA captain Yaniv Katan 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After more than 10 years, Hapoel Haifa finally defeated its cross-town rival in the Premier League on Saturday night, stunning Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
While their team spent much of the past decade in the National League, Hapoel Haifa fans have had to watch their arch-rival dominate Israeli soccer, with the Greens winning seven championships in the last 11 seasons.
The last time Hapoel’s faithful got to enjoy a league derby win was way back in May 19, 2001, and it seemed they would have to wait even longer after Maccabi took a 1-0 lead into the break on Saturday courtesy of Vladimir Dvalishvili’s 22nd minute goal.
However, two Yuval Avidor goals in eight second half minutes turned the match on its head and broke the spirit of the feeble Greens.
After equalizing in the 49th minute, a cool finish by Avidor seven minutes later put the visitors in front before Vladimir Gluscevic netted the third in the 65th.
“We need to seriously look into what has gone wrong,” Haifa captain Yaniv Katan said. “We can’t afford to play like this. We can’t continue this way.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv snapped its four-match losing streak on Saturday, but left Teddy Stadium deeply frustrated after drawing 1-1 with Maccabi Netanya.
Coach Nir Levine, who is replacing Moti Ivanir on an interim basis, thought his team had grabbed the win after substitute Roei Kehat scored in the 80th minute.
However, Ahmed Saba poured salt on the yellow-and-blue’s open wounds, equalizing from the penalty spot in the fourth minute of stoppage time after Shiran Yeini handled the ball in the box.
Elsewhere, Ashdod SC continued its sensational run of form on Saturday, moving tied on points with firstplaced Hapoel Tel Aviv after coming back from a goal down to defeat Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 on the road.
Despite dropping to 10-men in the 56th minute after Oded Elkayam’s sending off, Kostadin Hazurov gave the hosts the lead in the 68th minute.
However, Idan Shriki would equalize just a minute later and Rodgers Kola netted the winner 11 minutes from time to give Ashdod its fifth consecutive win.
Hapoel Tel Aviv visits third-placed Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday.
After winning just once in its first 13 matches, Hapoel Beersheba triumphed for a second straight week on Saturday, defeating Hapoel Rishon Lezion 1-0.
Ido Eksbard scored the only goal of the match in the 65th minute, extending Rishon’s winless streak to 13 games.
Hapoel Acre got back to winning ways in resounding fashion on Saturday, thrashing Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-0 in the first match ever at Hamoshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.
Stefan Scepovic netted a brace (9, 63) and Guy Dayan (42) and Yuval Shabtai (74) scored one goal each against Petah Tikva, which ended the match with 10- men after Tal Ben-Haim’s sending off in the 46th minute.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches, but will be disappointed by only drawing 0-0 at home against rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva.