Local Soccer: Mac Haifa stumbles to draw with Mac Petah Tikva

Katan equalizes Tzemach strike as Greens miss out on chance to move into second place in the Israeli Premier League.

yaniv katan 88 (photo credit: )
yaniv katan 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Haifa missed out on a chance to move into second place in the Israeli Premier League when it was held 1-1 at Maccabi Petah Tikva. The Greens were the better side for much of the game, although Petah Tikva struck first through Ofer Tzemach early in the second half. Yaniv Katan pulled one back for Haifa with a quarter of an hour left to play but the visitors couldn't find another and had to settle for a point. The home side was playing its first game without striker Omer Golan who has transfered to Belgian side Lokeron and was under pressure from the first whistle. Petah Tikva 'keeper Ohad Cohen made a fine stop to deny Dekel Keinen in the eighth minute when the defender powered in a fierce header from a pinpoint Omri Afek freekick. Although the visiting Haifa team was in control for the majority of the first half, Petah Tikva had it's chances. Liran cohen forced a diving save from Nir Davidovitch in the Haifa goal when he hit a long range effort from well outside the penalty area on the half hour mark. The teams appeared to trade shots from far out, with Gustavo Boccoli's dangerously dipping speculative volley forcing a save from Cohen just before half time. Katan came close five minutes into the second half when he homed in on the goal but Cohen was again up to the task. The opener was finely struck by Tzemach, but Davidovitch should have done better as he hopelessly watched the ball fly past his outstretched arms and bounce agonizingly into the net. Katan, however, made it 1-1 with a quarter of an hour left to play when he finished off a classy move involving Brazilians Renato and Paulinho, passing the ball past Cohen. Ohad Kadusi thought he had scored the winner for Petah Tikva two minutes later when his lob evaded Davidovitch and bounced down off the cross bar, but replays showed it had not crossed the line. Haifa coach Roni Levy brought on striker Shlomi Arbeitman to provide some extra guile in attack, but his most exceptional contribution was to fluff a simple opportunity from a couple of meters out two minutes before the final whistle.