After opening scoring, Jerusalem surrenders four unanswered goals to lose at "new" home.
By ALLON SINAI
Maccabi Haifa returned to winning ways with an emphatic victory on Monday night, coming back from a goal down to thrash Betar Jerusalem 4-1 at Teddy Stadium.After taking all three points just once in its previous five matches, Haifa found itself in early trouble at Teddy after Steven Cohen gave Betar the lead on 11 minutes.However, Weeam Amasha equalized with a superb finish in the 26th minute before Vladimir Dvalishvili’s quick brace (61, 65) gave Haifa a lead Betar was never going to erase.Amasha ensured Betar will quickly want to forget its first match of the season at the renovated Teddy when he netted his second goal of the night from the penalty spot in the 90th minute, and despite its struggles so far this season, Haifa is now just five points back of league-leader Hapoel Tel Aviv.“We knew it would be an aggressive match and we were ready to fight,” Amasha said. “We knew that we could embark on a new course with a win tonight and I hope that will happen.We need to put together a few wins and we will be okay. I believe we can still take the championship. We are only five points back of first place and the season is still young.”Betar, which has won just once in its past eight matches, remains in 11th place.Advertisement“The score line doesn’t tell the true story of the match,” Betar coach Yuval Naim said.“We played well for large periods and reached numerous chances, but failed to convert them.”Both teams looked to get the match off to a fast start, if just to get warm in a cold Jerusalem night.Betar got the breakthrough it was hoping for when Cohen netted the opener after just 11 minutes.Haifa’s defense was caught napping when Kobi Moyal sent through Avi Rikan, whose perfectly timed cross was smashed in by Cohen.The early setback was the last thing Haifa needed and it was fortunate not to find itself two goals down in the 25th minute.Amit Ben-Shushan mesmerized the Haifa defense, but his shot was tipped round the post by Bojan Saranov’s excellent save.Moments later, Haifa equalized.The visitors cleared Betar’s corner and broke forward in no time, with Eyal Golasa releasing Amasha, who scored his 11th league goal of the season with a clinical finish.Betar could have still led at the break, with Ben-Shushan squandering a great chance on 33 minutes, firing wide after being given plenty of space in the box.Inevitably, Jerusalem lived to rue its missed chances, with Dvalishvili scoring twice in five minutes to give Haifa the win.Betar dropped its tempo, and despite also getting the second half off to a slow start, Haifa needed just two accurate attacks to clinch all three points.Dvalishvili looked lost for the first hour of the match, but in the 61st minute he rose above the Betar defense to head in Yaniv Katan’s corner kick and give Haifa the lead.Four minutes later, Taleb Tawatha sprinted down the left flank and squared the ball for Dvalishvili, who lost his marker with a quick turn, and slotted in his second goal of the night after going scoreless in the first 11 matches of the campaign.Amasha poured salt on Betar’s wounds in the 90th minute after Hen Azriel was brought down in the box, taking his tally for the season to 12 goals from the penalty spot and giving Haifa fans another reason to celebrate as they embarked on a happy trip back home.
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