Local Soccer: Mac TA and Mac Haifa suffer shock defeats

Roni Levy's team suffers second straight loss of the season, falling prey to a Shai Holtzman winner.

Mac Haifa 298.88 (photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Mac Haifa 298.88
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Maccabi Tel Aviv has produced another disappointing performance in the Premier League, losing out 2-3 to Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday night in Petah Tikva. Eli Cohen fielded an ultra-attacking formation in search of all three points, but the "Luzons" ran out deserved winners. The yellow-and-blue came out as clear favorites for the game, looking to rejoin the championship race after the lackluster 1-1 draw with Ashdod SC. But Cohen's players were totally outplayed by Petah Tikva, which produced a strong second half to win the game. "Something is definitely wrong in our attack," Cohen said after the game. "We created many chances, but our attackers failed to take advantage. We deserved at least a point from this game. I'm sure this team has the ability to bounce back and win such games." "We made a shaky start," Petah Tikva coach Yossi Mizrahi commented. "But my players are real fighters and didn't give up after Tel Aviv's equalizer. We pressed their midfielders and completely controlled the game towards the end. I'm happy with this win." Maccabi Haifa is also in deep trouble. Roni Levy's team suffered its second straight loss of the season, falling prey to a Shai Holtzman winner. Maccabi Netanya beat Maccabi Herzliya 2-1, while Bnei Sakhnin and Ironi Kiryat Shmona settled for a scoreless draw. Maccabi Petah Tikva 3, Maccabi Tel Aviv 2 The "Luzons" drew first blood in the 22nd minute. The hosts created a quick attack on the left flank, the ball was fed to Omer Damari who dribbled past his marker and crossed the ball into the box. Tel Aviv's Ori Shitrit made bad contact with the ball and scored a miserable own goal. The yellow-and-blue got back on level terms in the 41st minute of the encounter. French forward Yannick Kamanan took full advantage of a mix-up in the Petah Tikva defense and headed in from close range. Petah Tikva made the visitor's pay for their sloppy defense after the break. The hosts took the lead in the 58th minute when Liran Cohen set up Soli Tzemach, who unleashed a lethal piledriver from the edge of the box, beating goalkeeper Drogslav Jevric. Nenad Savic put the game beyond Tel Aviv's reach in the 64th minute with a moment of sheer brilliance. The Serbian midfielder dribbled towards the goal and let fly from 30 meters, scoring the most mesmerizing goal of the season so far. Avi Nimni pulled one back with a solo effort in stoppage time, but it was not enough to avoid the defeat. Ashdod SC 1, Maccabi Haifa 0 Roni Levy decided to bench influential forward Lior Rafaelov in favor of striker Shlomi Arbitman, who was asked to provide the extra punch in attack. But the gamble didn't pay off for Haifa, which had a disastrous first half. The Dolphins opened the scoring in the 18th minute, with a brilliant counter attack. Kobi Dajani made a strong tackle in midfield and sent Shai Holtzman into space. The veteran striker broke the offside trap and found the back of the net to give his side the lead. Haifa's Gustavo Boccoli was sent off in the 38th minute after handling the ball in his box. Ashdod was awarded a penalty, but Holtzman's shot was fisted away by Nir Davidovich. Maccabi Herzliya 1, Maccabi Netanya 2 Netanya welcomed Itai Shekhter back into its starting lineup. Herzliya took the lead in the 18th minute, when Mahran Radi scored with a trademark long range drive. But Netanya found the equalizer after two minutes, when Shekhter scored off a Sebastian Rosenthal assist. Reuven Atar introduced attacking midfielder Yihiel Tzagai after the break, a move that paid quick dividends. The visitors stung Herzliya when Dedi Ben Dayan fired in a tricky long range shot which landed in the back of the net.