Harazi bows out as Haifa sinks Sakhnin

Harazi bows out as Haifa

maccabi netanya (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
maccabi netanya
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After 19 seasons, 527 top-flight appearances and a staggering 17 pieces of silverware - including nine championship titles - 39-year-old Maccabi Haifa defender Alon Harazi drew the curtains on an illustrious league career on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win at home to Bnei Sakhnin. Shlomi Arbeitman was once again the hero for Haifa, bagging the winner for the champions after coming on as a substitute. Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv looked far from the team which so impressively beat Maccabi Haifa on Monday, failing to capitalize on an abundance of possession and going down 1-0 away at Reuven Atar's fighting Maccabi Netanya side. Ahmed Saba'a got the only goal of the game, crashing in header from Klemi Saban's cross on the stroke of half-time. At Teddy Stadium, an Aviram Bruchian free-kick and a brace by Toto Tamuz brought Betar Jerusalem's dismal run to an end with a 3-1 win against Hapoel Ra'anana, which had taken a shock lead though Steven Cohen's header. Elsewhere, Bnei Yehuda bounced back from last week's defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv with a 1-0 win at Maccabi Petah Tikva thanks to a Pedro Galvan goal, although Guy Luzon's men had to play the last 12 minutes with 10 men after Sinisa Linic was sent off for two bookable offences. At the bottom end of the table, Shahar Siman Tov's last-minute penalty gave draw specialist Hapoel Acre a 1-1 tie at Hapoel Ramat Gan after Ivorian Serge Aylei had opened the scoring for the home side. Also Saturday, goals by captain Maor Melikson and Serge Nasser helped Hapoel Beersheba to a 2-0 victory at home to Hapoel Petah Tikva, for which Guy Tzarfati missed a penalty and Ii'ad Khotba was sent off to complete a miserable evening for new manager Shavit Elimelech. Maccabi Haifa 1, Bnei Sakhnin 0 Arbeitman may even surpass Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his incredible impact from the substitute's bench. The Haifa striker came up with the goods once again on Saturday afternoon after replacing Lior Rafaelov in the second-half. He has now scored 11 goals this season, finding the net at the amazing rate of once every hour. Haifa had looked disheveled prior to the former Betar Jerusalem striker's 77th-minute goal, finding a solid Sakhnin defense difficult to break down and looking a tad nervous following last week's first defeat of the season to Maccabi Tel Aviv. The league leader tested Meir Cohen early on, but the Sakhnin stopper was equal to Rafaelov's low drive, making a smart one-handed save down to his left. Trinidadian Scott Sealy nearly broke the deadlock before half time for Sakhnin, running at a backpedalling Dekel Keinan before curling the ball inches wide of Nir Davidovich's right-hand post. Haifa began the second-half in slightly better fashion, with Rafaelov shooting just over and Cohen saving Yaniv Katan's deflected drive. Eyal Golasa then flashed a header wide from Eyal Meshumar's cross, before a neat Haifa move ended with Cohen acrobatically tipping Arbeitman's header over the bar. Moments later, Cohen brilliantly clawed out Golasa's flick, but the seemingly unbeatable Sakhnin keeper was soon picking the ball out of the net. Golasa drilled the ball to Vladimir Dvalishvili, and the Georgian's sublime touch found Arbeitman who smashed the ball in, to the palpable relief of the home fans. Harazi came on to a standing ovation in the closing stages, and the Haifa legend nearly bowed out with a bang when he nonchalantly chipped Cohen from the edge of the box, but the ball narrowly dipped over the bar. Harazi, who will officially retire after Tuesday's Champions League match against Bordeaux, said he felt "really emotional" to play his last league game at Kiryat Eliezer, but that "all good things come to an end." Maccabi Haifa coach Elisha Levy called Harazi "a great sportsman who's really appreciated here and all over." Levy went on to say that his side's poor performance was likely the result of Monday's defeat at Maccabi Tel Aviv. "It certainly could be that we felt under pressure after last week's loss, and that's completely normal," he said.