Local soccer: A struggle to score at Kiryat Eliezer

Mac Haifa and Mac Tel Aviv wrap up Matchday 21 with 0-0 draw.

Maccabi Haifa 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv drew 0-0 in their lackluster Premier League match at Kiryat Eliezer on Sunday night and failed once more to close in on league leader Betar Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, which extended its unbeaten streak to 16 matches, remains in third place, six points behind Betar, with Haifa in seventh - 11 points behind first. Neither side managed to muster any serious scoring chances during the entire 90 minutes and Jerusalem coach Yossi Mizrahi surely slept soundly on Sunday night after watching weak performances by what are supposed to be two of his biggest challengers for this season's championship. "We weren't sharp tonight and we were caught offside too much," Haifa coach Roni Levy said. "We failed to complete simple plays tonight and I'm not pleased with the result. "We need to win our home matches. This form will not be enough against CSKA Moscow on Thursday." Haifa hosts the Russian club in the second leg of their UEFA Cup third round tie on Thursday night after drawing 0-0 in the first leg last week. Tel Aviv abandoned its typical cautious approach at the start of the match and controlled the possession by pressuring the hosts to their goal. However, the visitors failed to convert their dominance into scoring opportunities and rarely troubled Haifa 'keeper Nir Davidovitch. In the 11th minute, Omer Peretz was only centimeters away from connecting to Eli Biton's cross, but the hosts' defense was on hand to clear the ball with a last ditch tackle. Haifa was content to try to hit its opponents on the break and almost grabbed the lead in the 32nd minute when Tel Aviv 'keeper Tvrtko Kale intercepted a cross from Yaniv Katan that was directed to Xavier Dirceo. Haifa got its first shot on target in the 42nd minute when Alain Masudi struck a powerful shot from 18 meters out that was easily collected by Kale. Tel Aviv midfielder Yossi Shivhon had the last chance of the half, but failed to keep his volley from just inside the area on goal and the clubs went into halftime in a 0-0 deadlock. Haifa seized the initiative in the second half, but could not translate its control into shots on goal. Roberto Colautti was the first to threaten Kale's goal, hitting a good shot from 20 meters out that went just wide of the right post. The match began to open up in the closing stages and Masudi was the next to come close to scoring. The Frenchman's shot in the 71st minute was making its way into goal, but was cleared by the Tel Aviv defense and the visitors were spared. Two minutes later, the yellow-and-blue had their best chance of the match after Biton initially took advantage of Haim Magrashvili's slip. However, his woeful lob didn't trouble Davidovitch. Eight minutes from the final whistle, Haifa substitute Maor Melikson should have scored the winner, but could only fire his shot high above the goal.