Local Soccer: Mac Haifa falls to Mac Netanya 2-0

Also Saturday, Hap TA concedes goal in 86th minute to be held 1-1 at Ashdod SC, Mac Herzliya beats Bnei Sakhnin 3-0, Bnei Yehuda loses 1-0 to Mac Petah Tikva.

maccabi netanya 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi netanya 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Netanya opened a four point lead over Maccabi Haifa in the battle for second position in the Premier League on Saturday night, defeating the Greens 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer. Netanya, which kept its seventh straight clean sheet, hit the hosts twice on the break and was never in any real danger of conceding from a Haifa team, which was unbeaten in its last 10 matches. Despite moving to within five points of reigning champion Betar Jerusalem with the victory, Netanya coach Reuven Atar refused to speak of his side's championship aspirations. "Our aim at the moment is to continue amassing points and playing good soccer," said Atar, who was cheered by the local fans, who still regard him as a hero after his illustrious playing career at Haifa. "I'm very flattered by the fans applauds and Haifa will always be my home. But I'm in my sixth season with Netanya and I'm enjoying myself there." Also Saturday, Hapoel Tel Aviv conceded a goal in the 86th minute to be held 1-1 at Ashdod SC, Maccabi Herzliya defeated Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 and Bnei Yehuda lost 1-0 to Maccabi Petah Tikva. On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to open a five point cushion from the relegation zone when it hosts Betar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium. In Haifa, the home team got off to the better start, but it was Netanya which took the lead. Awudu Okocha was given far too much space in the Haifa box in the 24th minute and easily headed the visitors ahead. The hosts continued to dominate the possession, but couldn't convert their control into a goal. The closest they came was in the 63rd minute when goalkeeper Liran Shtrauber acrobatically saved Shai Maimon's header. Five minutes later, Netanya secured the win. Itai Shechter put new signing Francis Kioyo through and the striker slotted the ball under Nir Davidovitch. "I'm disappointed," Haifa coach Roni Levy said. "We got off to a good start, but couldn't translate our possession into goals. Our play was fine, but the final result was not." Ashdod SC 1, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 A goal from Dimitar Makriev four minutes from time made sure Ashdod and Hapoel shared the spoils on Saturday evening at the Yud Alef Stadium in Ashdod. Shlomi Arbietman gave Tel Aviv the lead with a header in the 15th minute, his first goal since moving to the Reds from Maccabi Haifa last month. But the visitors failed to build on their early lead and chose instead to settle for defending for the remainder of the match. Four minutes before the final whistle Hapoel paid the price for its lack of ambition as Makriev turned in David Revivo's free kick. "We were ready for this match and we knew what to expect," Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman said. "We allowed Ashdod to control the encounter, but we were still close to winning the match." Bnei Sakhnin 0, Maccabi Herzliya 3 Herzliya opened a six point margin from the relegation zone after handing Sakhnin its first home loss of the season. Tcham N'toya's volley 10 minutes into the encounter gave the visitors a perfect start and two minutes into the second half Maharan Radi blasted the ball in from 25 meters out to double Maccabi's advantage. Surprisingly, Sakhnin was on its back foot for the entire game and in the 55th minute the visitors secured their win after new signing Ivan Vukomanovic scored with an excellent solo effort. "This was our best match of the season," Herzliya coach Freddi David said. "Everybody played well and we need to build on this display." Maccabi Petah Tikva 1, Bnei Yehuda 0 Maccabi coach Guy Luzon made a triumphant return to Petah Tikva on Saturday after Liran Cohen's 82nd minute goal gave his team a slender win over rock-bottom Bnei Yehuda. Petah Tikva was winless in its last six matches under previous coach Ofer Fabian and despite playing poorly once more on Saturday, claimed all three points thanks to Cohen's free kick goal from 20 meters out. Hapoel Kfar Saba 2, Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3 Kiryat Shmona climbed to third place on Saturday thanks to a 90th minute penalty by Guy Tzarfati. Ironi, which extended its unbeaten run to 12 matches in Kfar Saba, fell behind early after Ori Uzan gave the hosts the lead in the eighth minute. In the 35th minute, however, in-form striker Yuval Avidor equalized for the northerners and six minutes into the second half Yaniv Lavi completed the comeback. Kfar Saba, which has won just one of nine home matches this season, tied the score in the 68th minute thanks to Guillermo Israelevitch's header, but Tzarfati would secure the win with a late goal after promising former Betar Jerusalem youngster Kobi Moyal was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty box. "We showed our character tonight," Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon said. "We came from a goal down and also scored a winner after conceding an equalizer."