Mac Haifa leapfrogs Hap TA into first place

Greens dump Hap PT 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer to overtake Reds going into upcoming clash.

Ghadir 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ghadir 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa will enter next Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Hapoel Tel Aviv in first place after defeating Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday night.
Haifa, which holds a two-point lead over second-place Tel Aviv, got off to a rocky start on Monday, but took the lead in the 32nd minute through Idan Vered’s first league goal for the team.
The Greens then wrapped up the victory in the 76th minute thanks to substitute Mohammad Ghadir’s strike.
“The name of the game as far as we are concerned is consistency,” said Haifa coach Elisha Levy, whose team is unbeaten in its last 14 league matches, with its only defeat of the season coming at the hands of Hapoel Tel Aviv.
“We didn’t play great tonight, but Petah Tikva has been playing well recently and it wasn’t an easy game. We started the match poorly, but we created plenty of chances and we could have won by a far greater margin.”
Rather than sitting back and defending like most teams do when they visit Kiryat Eliezer, Petah Tikva pressured the hosts from the start, looking for an early goal to turn the momentum in its favor.
However, Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovich had little work and the hosts soon found their rhythm.
Tomer Hemed, who scored two winning goals for the Greens in the past two weeks, should have done better with his header in the 21st minute and was only denied by Petah Tikva stopper Austin Ejide five minutes later after a swift team move.
However, Haifa continued to pile the pressure on Petah Tikva and was eventually rewarded for its efforts with the breakthrough in the 32nd minute.
Vered’s initial pass was blocked by the Petah Tikva defense, but the ball came right back to the young midfielder’s feet and he smashed in his first league goal for Haifa since moving to the club from Betar Jerusalem last summer.
Yaniv Katan and Hemed both came close to doubling Haifa’s lead before the break, but their attempts went just wide of Ejide’s goal and Petah Tikva was still in the match at halftime.
The visitors had their chances to equalize in the second half, most notably with the long-range attempts from Guy Tzarfati and Rafi Dahan.
However, Davidovich would not be beaten and Haifa clinched the win in the 76th minute.
A nifty team move ended with Eyal Meshumar squaring the ball for Ghadir, who didn’t fail in the simple task of tucking the ball into an empty net.