Local Soccer: Maccabi Tel Aviv wins dramatic derby

Maccabi Haifa coach, Levy to leave Haifa at the end of this season.

Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer  (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
An 89th-minute goal by substitute Yossi Shivhon gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday night. The win gives Maccabi three vital points in its battle against relegation and just as importantly for the yellow-and-blue fans hands Hapoel's survival hopes a massive blow. Maccabi is now five points clear of Ashdod SC and the relegation zone, with Hapoel a mere point ahead of Ashdod with 10 more matches to be played this season. An excellent first half ended tied at 1-1, with Tal Hen giving Hapoel the lead in the sixth minute and Yannick Kamanan equalizing in the 42nd minute. The match seemed to be heading to a draw after both sides dropped their level of play significantly in the second half, but Shivhon scored a massive goal in the nick of time and avenged Maccabi's two late losses to Hapoel in the first derby matches of the season. It didn't take the derby long to burst into life, with Hapoel scoring with its first chance of the match in the sixth minute. Yigal Antebi's cross from the left was headed into the center of the box by Walid Badier and Hen met the ball perfectly with his head to score the opener. Maccabi coach Nir Levin showed his displeasure with the way his team was playing three minutes later when he substituted Lior Jan for Rudy Haddad. The attacking substitution almost bore fruit immediately as Masudi missed a golden opportunity in the 34th minute after excellent build-up play by Kamanan. The two Frenchmen would, however, team-up beautifully once again eight minutes later to tie the score. Haddad's pass found Masudi in space and the midfielder healed the ball to the in-coming Kamanan, who slotted the equalizer past a helpless Vincent Enyeama. Neither team managed to create any real scoring opportunities for the first 40 minutes of the second half, but a late resurgence by the hosts was enough to secure all three points. In the 86th minute Shivhon timed his header perfectly and headed in the winner from a Dan Roman free kick. Levy to leave Haifa at the end of this season Roni Levy will leave Maccabi Haifa at the end of the season after five rollercoaster years at the club. The coach met with club chairman Jacob Shahar on Sunday and offered him his immediate resignation. Shahar turned him down and asked Levy to remain at the club until the end of the season and he agreed. Levy took charge of Haifa at the start of the 2003/04 season and led the club to three consecutive league titles in his first three seasons at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. The last two seasons, however, have been far from successful for the club. Last season the team only finished fifth in the league, but at least made up for its local failures by reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. This season Haifa continued to struggle and is currently only in fifth position, losing eight of its 23 matches to date. Haifa, which faces Maccabi Netanya in the State Cup on Wednesday, has only won once in its last seven league matches and many of the team's fans called for Levy's resignation after the 1-0 defeat to Betar Jerusalem on Saturday.