Local Soccer: Haifa defeats Tel Aviv

Greens guarantee a difficult week ahead for Levin and his staff with a 3-1 win at Kiryat Eliezer.

Maccabi Haifa 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
With new Maccabi Tel Aviv owner Alex Shnaider due in Israel next weekend to check out his most recent purchase, the club's coach Nir Levin would have hoped for a strong performance against Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer on Sunday night. And for the first 15 minutes of the final game of matchday 15 of the Israeli Premier League things appeared to be going that way. Tel Aviv was in full control of the game, away from home, and had already forced two full length diving saves from Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch. But a sudden Haifa breakaway counter attack which resulted in a goal from the home side's veteran Croatian midfielder Giovanni Rosso in the 18th minute changed the face of the match. Although Tel Aviv pulled one back through Yossi Shivhon eight minutes before half time, Haifa had already scored a second on the half hour. A third came through sub Oshri Gita at the end of a dull second half and Roni Levy's team guaranteed a difficult week ahead for Levin and his staff. The 3-1 win moved Haifa up to third place, one point behind Maccabi Netanya, while Tel Aviv is still in ninth. Rosso scored only his second league goal of the season since returning to Haifa from Maccabi Tel Aviv where he was part of the failed "Galacticos" team of 2005. But the 35-year-old showed he hasn't lost the skill and panache which kept him a fan favorite at all the teams he has played for since moving to Israel more than 11 years ago. Rosso was strong and intelligent in the center of the field, laying the ball off cleverly and getting into good positions at every opportunity. In fact he should have had a chance to score just a minute before he put the ball in the back of the net when he raced into space on the left of the penalty area as Yaniv Katan closed on goal. But the Haifa striker chose to have a go himself rather than square the ball and his shot was saved by Dragoslav Jevric. When it came, Rosso took his chance well, powering in a header from an Omri Afek corner, after climbing tall above Shivhon. Afek also performed positively alongside Rosso and Biram Kayal in the midfield, justifying his inclusion in the starting line up ahead of the much touted youngster Lior Rafaelov who came on as a late substitute. Afek scored the second for Haifa, poking in a ball headed down by impressive Brazilian striker Renato. And Gita scored the clincher three minutes before the end. Tel Aviv had its moments, especially before the goal and in the middle of the second half. French duo Rudy Hadad and Yannick Kammanan were the more impressive players on the visiting team, but they could not do enough to gain any share of the points and left the north empty handed.