Local Soccer: Maccabi Haifa held 1-1 by Mac TA at Bloomfield

Fanteni nets equalizer with time winding down to give Greens a share of the points.

soccer (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The battle for the Premier League title became even tighter on Sunday night when Maccabi Tel Aviv held Maccabi Haifa to a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Stadium, ensuring that Elisha Levy's Greens remain in second place, tied on points, but trailing Hapoel Tel Aviv on goal difference. While Haifa was the better team throughout the 90 minutes, Haim Magrelashvili gave Tel Aviv the lead halfway through the first half and the Haifa equalizer did not come until just over ten minutes before the end. Maccabi Tel Aviv which moved up a place to sixth, had to play with coach Avi Nimni in the stands, where he will be for another four games due to a touchline ban. Nimni, however, sat in the front row, directly behind his bench, and appeared to be directing his assistants. The first real chance fell to Maor Buzaglo in the 20th minute when the ball was chipped over the Haifa defense, but the young striker failed to take advantage, scuffing his shot and sending it wide of Nir Davidovitch's goal. The opportunity ignited the fire in the team in yellow and Nimni's side began putting passes together and building some serious attacks. Not that Haifa was sitting back. Three minutes later, Shlomi Arbeitman put the ball over the bar from centimeters out. But it was Tel Aviv which took the lead in the 24th, with Magrelashvili racing on to a through ball from Shiran Yeini and smashing it to Davidovitch's right and into the net. The wind immediately seemed to deflate from Haifa's sails, while Tel Aviv was playing composed soccer but was unable to add to its lead Haifa started the second half the brightest and was unlucky not to score two minutes in when Culma knocked the ball over from close range. Levy's team then appeared to grab an equalizer in the 55th when Arbeitman bundled the ball in, only to see the referee rule it out for a foul on the goalkeeper. With 20 minutes left, and Tel Aviv just about holding on to its lead, Nimni attempted to inject a little urgency into his attack, replacing Magrelashvili with Liberian striker Dulee Johnson and then Buzaglo with Yavruyan. The decision, whoever made it, seemed to pay off a minute later when Johnson put Yavruyan through and the Armenian scored with his first touch. But it was ruled offside and Haifa took the initiative, went up the other end and equalized. Gustavo Boccoli crossed from the right, straight on to the head of Thembinkosi Fanteni who made no mistake from the near post 12 minutes from time. Haifa came close to building on its late tally but couldn't capitalize and had to be satisfied with a single point.