In-form Greens win again to climb to third

Maccabi Haifa continues its surge up the Premier League standings, beating Ashdod SC 4-1 to leapfrog into third place.

Maccabi Haifa celebrates derby win 370 (photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa celebrates derby win 370
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Maccabi Haifa continued its surge up the Premier League standings on Sunday night, beating Ashdod SC 4-1 to leapfrog into third place.
Haifa was in 13th position out of 14 teams when Arik Benado took charge of the side in place of Reuven Atar less than two months ago.
The Greens haven’t lost in eight matches since, winning six of their past seven encounters to emerge as a championship contender once more.
Haifa could have clinched the win in the first half, but it converted just one of its many chances, with Eyal Golasa’s splendid 40th-minute goal giving Benado’s men a halftime lead.
Ashdod finally displayed some urgency and accuracy at the start of the second half and Hatem El-Hamid leveled the score in the 56th minute, snapping Haifa’s four-match clean-sheet streak.
However, despite conceding its first goal since November 26, Haifa showed its character by regaining the lead against the run of play through Hen Ezra in the 75th minute before Eyal Meshumar (92) and Alon Turgeman (94) put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.
“We played an exceptional match,” said Benado, whose team closed to within seven points of league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv, which visits Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday. “The players fought hard and played attacking soccer. We put on a show and I’m proud of the players.”
Haifa dominated Ashdod right from the kickoff and should have really taken the lead in the 11th minute, but Weeam Amasha made a mess of his shot with just ‘keeper Ofir Marziano to beat.
Marziano denied Golasa and Ezra before the former broke the deadlock with a superb effort, turning in the box and firing an unstoppable shot into the top left corner.
El-Hamid netted a deserved equalizer for the hosts nine minutes into the second half, but Haifa weathered the storm and Ezra’s goal broke Ashdod’s spirit before Meshumar and Turgeman poured salt on the floundering Ashdod’s wounds.