Maccabi Haifa celebrates league title with easy victory

Haifa is the third team ever to win three consecutive championships, and the first to do so since 1963.

maccabi haifa 88.298 (photo credit: )
maccabi haifa 88.298
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Haifa celebrated its third consecutive Premier League title Sunday night with a 4-0 victory over Hapoel Upper Nazareth at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, the final Matchday 30 fixture. Haifa had already secured the championship on Saturday without even kicking a ball. When Hapoel Tel Aviv could only get one point from its match with Ashdod SC, the greens had an unbeatable lead at the top of the standings. Haifa became the third team ever to win three consecutive championships and the first to do so since Hapoel Petah Tikva won its fifth straight in 1963. Haifa, which has now won five of the last six championships, was far from its best during a mostly dull 90 minutes, but the champions only needed a little amount of the class and talent that they've demonstrated all season long to secure the win. Much like the match, the celebrations were also low key, as the official festivities set to take place at the last home game of the season and with the Haifa fans almost seeming to take another league title for granted. Champions League qualification may again have eluded the club, but this has still been one of the most successful seasons in the club's history. Along with the league championship and the Toto Cup, Maccabi Haifa has a chance for a domestic treble, with a State Cup semifinal on Wednesday. Nazareth's failure to get any points from the match leaves the team in the relegation zone, with only Bnei Sakhnin standing between it and the bottom of the standings. Despite its grave situation, all is still not lost, as Nazareth only trails Hapoel Kfar Saba by goal difference with three matches left in the season. Both teams were slow at the start of the match and the fans had to wait until the 25th minute for the first notable piece of action. Maccabi Haifa midfielder Fernando Lorfise found Eden Ben-Basat free inside the visitors' box and the young striker easily slotted the ball in. Haifa seemed to settle for its one-goal lead with Upper Nazareth unable to muster a serious challenge on the hosts' goal. Maccabi opened the second half searching for a second goal and nine minutes after the interval got its reward. Captain Arik Benado was left unmarked and headed Haifa's second direct from a corner kick. The hosts continued to push forward and got their third in the 71st minute. Substitute Lior Refaelov crossed the ball to Ben-Basat, who coolly headed in his second. Haifa wasn't done and in the 89th minute, Benado bundled home his second goal of the match, capping the celebratory rout.