Mac TA holds on for Haifa draw

Maccabi Tel Aviv regained its pride and picked up a point Sunday night in 1-1 draw against champions-elect Maccabi Haifa.

maccabi tel aviv 88 (photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
maccabi tel aviv 88
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Maccabi Tel Aviv regained its pride and picked up a point Sunday night in 1-1 draw against champions-elect Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium. Ton Caanen's side had left the pitch in shame after their last home appearance 13 days ago - a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of lowly Maccabi Petah Tikva. But this was a vastly improved showing in all departments from Tel Aviv, which has played very poorly in recent weeks and has now failed to win six straight league matches. The yellow-and-blue, without a victory in the league since defeating Haifa seven weeks ago, battled, but simply lacked the quality to hurt its opponents. "I'm pleased with the result," Maccabi Tel Aviv general manager Eli Driks said after the match. "Haifa was the better team tonight, but we still managed to end the match in a draw." Tel Aviv lost all hope of winning the match and settled for a draw in the 54th minute, after Avi Yehiel fouled Haifa striker Roberto Colautti and received his second yellow card. Haifa deserved more then the draw with the score line never really reflecting the comfort with which Roni Levi's men controlled the match. The greens never really got out of second gear and ended up ruing their missed chances at games end. Tel Aviv midfielder Eyal Berkovic was hoping to celebrate his 34th birthday with a priceless win against his former team, which humiliatingly turned him away in the summer, but despite scoring a first-half penalty and giving his team the lead, Tel Aviv was unable to hold on to the win for its veteran midfielder. Neither team managed to break the deadlock in what was a high tempo, but eventless first 20 minutes. In the 26th minute Berkovic finally got a chance to exact revenge on his former team when Haim Magrelishvili brought down Giorgi Demitradze in the penalty box. In a season which has mostly seen lows and very lows for the Tel Aviv midfielder, Berkovic finally got a rare high when he easily beat Haifa keeper Nir Davidovitch to give his team the lead. Berkovic's sweet moment didn't last very long and 14 minutes after giving his team the lead Haifa equalized. A fantastic team move was finished by Colautti after a superb Idan Tal layoff. Both teams seemed content with a draw at the start of the second half, but nine minutes into the half the hosts' hopes took a turn for the worse. Yehiel fouled Colautti and left the referee with no choice but to send him off. Haifa took advantage of its extra man and came closer and closer to scoring a winner. In the 79th minute Michael Zandberg nearly sent one in, but his shot was pushed unto the crossbar by Tel Aviv 'keeper Liran Strauber. Zandberg came close once more a minute later, but Strauber came to his team rescue once again and made sure Tel Aviv had something to show for its efforts at the end of the day.