Local soccer: Sachnin stuns Maccabi Haifa in opener

Newly promoted Sachnin opens domestic campaign with a dramatic 1-0 win; Kiryat Shmona, another newcomer, routes Maccabi Herzliya 3-0.

Maccabi Haifa 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Newly promoted Bnei Sachnin opened its domestic campaign with a dramatic 1-0 win against Maccabi Haifa on Saturday. The Greens, who were labeled as league challengers this season, failed to impress and fell prey to a determined Sachnin at Kiryat Eliezer. "I believe in these lads and I'm glad they proved their worth," said Sachnin manager Elisha Levy. "We came into this game as clear underdogs, but anything is possible in soccer. Hopefully the management can give me more funds to add some more quality players." Fans were provided with another surprising result, as Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona soundly thrashed Maccabi Herzliya 3-0 in its first game of the season. The current Toto Cup holder was unable to duplicate its form from last season and was punished by Ran Ben-Shimon's team. A Ben Luz strike gave Hapoel Kfar Saba a precious 1-0 away win against Yossi Mizrahi's Maccabi Petah Tikva. Defending champion Betar Jerusalem will open its domestic campaign with a home game against Bnei Yehuda in Sunday's televised fixture. UEFA Cup participants Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv will be in action Monday against Ashdod SC and Maccabi Netanya, respectively. Maccabi Haifa 0, Bnei Sachnin 1 Haifa coach Roni Levy had to conjure up a make-shift lineup, due to the recent changes made to his squad. With star striker Roberto Colautti moving to the German team Borussia M'Gladbach and Javier Dirsao departing for Maccabi Petah Tikva, the coach had to field numerous reserves. Yaniv Katan was absent due to illness. The visitors silenced the 8,000-strong crowd in the very first minute of the encounter. Abed Rabah made a swift run on the right flank and lobbed the ball into the box. Hamed Ganaim broke the offside trap and headed the ball into the goal, making it 1-0 just 45 seconds into the game. The greens produced a superb attacking effort in the second half, looking for the equalizer. Lior Rafaelov dominated the midfield and created easy opportunities for Shlomi Arbitman and Giovanni Rosso, but the hosts were unable to take advantage of their chances. The result was a dramatic win for the visitors from Sachnin. Kiryat Shmona 3, Maccabi Herzliya 0 The newcomer showed no signs of inferiority and took the initiative, pressing forward in search of an early goal. The hard work paid off soon, as playmaker Guy Tzarfati set up forward Yaro Bello in front of goal. The Nigerian provided a clinical finish to put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute. Herzliya tried to retaliate with well planned attacks via the flanks, but veteran goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech made his presence felt in between the posts. The hosts then hammered two more nails into Herzliya's coffin. Yaniv Lavi scored his first goal in the top flight in the 72nd minute, after teammate Amir Nussbaum's header rebounded off the upright. Tzarfati continued to torture the visitor's rearguard and added another assist to his tally just six minutes later. Salah Hasarma did the damage with a solid close range header off Tzarfati's corner kick.