Local Soccer: Unstopable Haifa edges Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0

Haifa is showing no signs of letting up and has now won 18 of 20 league matches.

Maccabi Haifa kept its ninth consecutive clean sheet on Monday night, defeating Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 to move 12 points clear of Hapoel Tel Aviv at the top of the Premier League standings.
Despite last week’s disappointing performance against Tel Aviv, Haifa is showing no signs of letting up and has now won 18 of 20 league matches.
While Hapoel has stumbled recently, winning just one of its last four games, Haifa continues to triumph with ease and looks untouchable even when taking into account the fact that its lead will be halved after the first two rounds of matches under the league’s new format.
Haifa was far from its best on Monday, but a single goal by Vladimir Dvalishvili in the 72nd minute was enough to get the better of a weak Petah Tikva team.
The hosts entered the match after winning three of their last four encounters, but were extremely poor on Monday and posed no threat to Haifa.
The ninth straight clean sheet means Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch is now just 118 minutes away from breaking Giora Antman’s record for the longest stretch without conceding a goal.
Antman, who is currently Haifa’s goalkeeping coach, didn’t allow a goal as the team’s ‘keeper for 1,013 minutes during the 1988/89 season when the club won the league title.
Davidovitch has not taken the ball out of the back of the net since Emmanuel Mayuka scored in the fifth minute of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 1-0 victory over the Greens on November 30.
Petah Tikva struggled throughout Monday’s match and dragged Haifa down to its level in the first half.
Lior Rafaelov was Haifa’s most dangerous player, testing Petah Tikva goalkeeper Dragoslav Jevric from 20 meters out in the 14th minute and reaching the reigning champion’s best chance of the first 45 minutes on the stroke of halftime.
A superb break forward ended with Dvalishvili back-heeling the ball to Rafaelov, but the gifted midfielder was denied by an excellent Jevric save.  
Haifa improved its play after the break and as the half progressed came closer and closer to breaking the deadlock.
Three minutes after the interval, Rafaelov’s curler from the edge of the box got the better of Jevric, only to be denied by the crossbar.
The visitors piled the pressure on Petah Tikva and in the 60th minute substitute Shlomi Arbeitman should have scored from five meters out, just two minutes after entering the match as a substitute.
Six minutes later, the woodwork came to Petah Tikva’s rescue once again, denying Dvalishvili’s header.
And six more minutes passed before the Greens got the goal theydeserved. The Petah Tikva defense failed to clear the danger andDvalishvili stormed into the box to steal the ball before slotting itbeyond Jevric.
Haifa cruised for the remainder of the encounter, with Petah Tikvanever really threatening to end the champion’s amazing clean sheetstreak.