Local Soccer: Haifa win improves UEFA hopes

Avenges last week's defeat to Maccabi Netanya, closes on second position.

Maccabi Haifa 224.88 (photo credit: Berney Ardov)
Maccabi Haifa 224.88
(photo credit: Berney Ardov)
Two goals by South African Thembinkosi Fanteni gave Maccabi Haifa a 2-0 win over Maccabi Netanya on Sunday night, significantly boosting the greens hopes of claiming a UEFA Cup berth. Haifa, which won for just the second time in its last eight matches, avenged last weeks State Cup defeat to Netanya and is now only three points behind second position. Netanya would register the first shot on goal after a slow start to the match, with Dela Yampolsky's shot from the edge of the area parried away by Haifa keeper Nir Davidovitch. In the 36th minute the hosts had their best chance to take the lead, but Biram Kiyal cleared the ball off the goal line and Dedi Ben-Dayan's header seconds later went out off the crossbar. Two minutes later the visitors had their first scoring opportunity of the match when Yaniv Katan threaded the ball through to Fanteni who could do no better than direct his shot straight at keeper Liran Shtrauber. Haifa seized control of the encounter at the start of the second half and within eight minutes scored the opener. South African Peter Masilela squared the ball for his countryman Fanteni who tucked the ball beyond Shtrauber. Netanya got more and more helpless as the match drew to a close and never really came anywhere near to equalizing. In stoppage time any lingering hope the hosts may have had was put to rest after Fanteni spun his defender and slotted the ball in between Shtrauber's legs.