Mac Haifa holds leader Mac TA to 1-1 draw

Greens creep up to 5th place; Mac Netanya hands Hap TA first loss of local campaign.

Maccabi Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa put on a highly entertaining show at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, but ended up having to settle for one point each after the pulsating showdown ended in a 1-1 draw.
Tel Aviv was looking for just its second win over Haifa in their past 17 league meetings, but it had to settle for snapping its five-match losing streak to the Greens following a tense battle between the two best teams in Israel at the moment.
Shiran Yeini gave the hosts a dream start when he headed in the opener in the fifth minute, but Eyal Golasa equalized for Haifa in the 27th minute and Haifa was unlucky not to leave Bloomfield with all three points, missing numerous chances in front of goal.
The draw leaves Tel Aviv top of the standings on 16 points from seven matches, five points clear of fifthplaced Haifa, which proved on Monday that it will not relinquish its league title without a fight.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Tel Aviv failed to take advantage of the draw at Bloomfield, dropping to its first defeat of the Premier League season on Monday night, losing 2-1 at Maccabi Netanya.
Despite its mediocre start to the season, Hapoel managed to grind out results until Monday, but its far from impressive form caught up with it in Netanya.
Ahmed Saba continued his superb start to the season when he gave Netanya the lead in the 26th minute before Avihai Yadin tied the score in the 63rd.
However, Hapoel’s equalizer lasted just four minutes, with Saba scoring his sixth league goal of the campaign in the 67th minute to give Netanya its first home win of the season.
At Bloomfield, Tel Aviv’s defense looked unsettled from the start of the match and was fortunate not to find itself a goal down as early as the third minute when Weeam Amasha rounded ’keeper Guy Haimov after a Nivaldo blunder, only to miss the target with his shot from a tight angle.
Haifa’s plan to press the hosts in their own half right from the kickoff seemed to be paying off, but the visitors went behind in the fifth minute after their defense was caught napping.
Yeini was left unmarked in the Haifa box and he had little trouble heading in the opener from Haris Medunjanin’s cross.
Haifa took time to recover from the early blow, but it scored a deserved equalizer in the 27th minute courtesy of Golasa’s tireless work and Omer Vered’s blunder.
The Tel Aviv defender was caught off guard and Golasa stole the ball under his nose before surging into the box from the left flank and smashing in the equalizer with a thunderous shot.
Both sides had their chances to move into the lead in the remainder of the excellent first half at Bloomfield, but Haimov did well to deny Vered and Golasa and Bojan Saranov kept out Medunjanin’s long-range effort to keep the encounter finely balanced at the break.
Both teams kept up the frantic pace at the start of the second half as well, but it was Haifa which created the better chances.
Vered squandered two golden opportunities within less than two minutes at one stage, with captain Yaniv Katan also guilty of wastefulness.
In the 62nd minute, Tel Aviv goalkeeper Haimov was beaten, but Yoav Ziv came out of nowhere to clear Eyal Meshumar’s shot from the line to keep the match tied.
In other Israeli soccer news, Hapoel Beersheba announced on Monday that Guy Levy will replace Nir Klinger as the team’s coach.
Levy coached Beersheba in the 2008/09 season, but left after one year despite guiding the team to Premier League promotion.
Beersheba picked up its first points of the season with a 2-0 win at Hapoel Haifa on Saturday, but Klinger still declared his resignation in his postmatch TV interview, claiming he had enough of the fans abuse after Beersheba began the season with six straight defeats.