Local Soccer: Mac TA, Mac Haifa draw 3-3

Entertaining game sums up another disappointing season for the Greens.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A superb hat trick by Maccabi Haifa striker Thembinkosi Fanteni was not enough to give Roni Levy's side all three points in a roller coaster of a match against Maccabi Tel Aviv that ended 3-3 at Kiryat Eliezer on Sunday night. Each time the South African scored with his head Tel Aviv hit back with a goal of its own, first with two from former Haifa player Alan Masudi and finally a third, courtesy of Dor Malul. Although the game clearly entertained the crowd in Haifa, it summed up another disappointing season for the Greens. After winning the Israeli league title in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 the once-imperious club has fallen into relative obscurity over the last two years. It is currently in fifth place in the Israeli Premier League, six points off Bnei Sakhnin in fourth place and looks unlikely to qualify for European soccer next season. For Tel Aviv, however, the result represented another crucial point in its battle to avoid the unthinkable - a first ever relegation to the second division National League. Billionaire owner Alex Shnaider won't be satisfied with the performance, but with three games to play Maccabi Tel Aviv is now five points above Herzliya and Ashdod and the dreaded red line. Although relegation is still a numerical possibility, it is all but impossible now. When the game began it seemed clear that the visiting Tel Aviv team was only thinking about leaving the north with a win, and Masudi put the yellows ahead in the 10th minute with a wonderful half volley off of a Yanick Kamanan header. Fanteni pulled Haifa level only six minutes later with the first of three headers from pinpoint Alon Hazan crosses, and the striker put his side in the lead three minutes before half time. But Masudi got one back with a header of his own on the hour mark. Fanteni thought he had won the game when he scored two minutes later, but Malul's equalizer ensured the game ended in a stunning stalemate.