Netanya shocks Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer

Greens suffer 1st defeat to team other than Hap TA; Mac TA handles KS

Idan Vered 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Idan Vered 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv can leapfrog Maccabi Haifa into first place in the Premier League standings on Monday night after the Greens fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Maccabi Netanya at Kiryat Eliezer on Saturday.
Haifa entered the first weekend of the championship playoffs with a twopoint lead over the reigning champion following the halving of point totals.
However, after Haifa’s home loss on Saturday, Tel Aviv can reclaim top position should it beat Bnei Yehuda on Monday ahead of next Saturday’s showdown between the top two.
The Greens looked to be on their way to another victory on Saturday after taking the lead through Lior Rafaelov’s goal in the 17th minute.
But a dreadful mistake by Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovich gifted Netanya the equalizer seven minutes later, before Sergy Tretyak scored a stunning winner in the 38th minute, handing Haifa just its third defeat of the league season and its first to a team not named Hapoel Tel Aviv.
“We lost important points tonight,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. “We began the match well, but Netanya got back into the game with Davidovich’s goal and we played poorly after that.
“We will now have to beat Hapoel next week. The fate of the title is still in our hands and we must defeat Hapoel.”
Netanya reached the first chance of the match in the 16th minute, with Nir Nahum sending a weak effort from the center of the box straight at Davidovich.
Less than a minute later, Netanya paid for its wastefulness.
Idan Vered squared a clever ball for the in-form Rafaelov, who sent an unstoppable shot into the left corner.
However, a goalkeeping howler would present Netanya with the equalizer just seven minutes later.
Davidovich smashed his clearance straight at Ahmed Saba and the ball flew into the back of the net.
Seven minutes before the break, Netanya took a shocking lead.
Tretyak was given far too much time and space on the edge of the area and he fired an unstoppable shot from 20 meters out.
Levy introduced Yaniv Katan at the start of the second half, but despite all its pressure, Haifa rarely threatened Carlos Arias’s goal.
Tomer Hemed wasted a good chance in the 58th minute before beating Arias with his chip six minutes later, only for Leonard Krupnik to clear the ball from the line.
Haifa reached one last opportunity two minutes into stoppage time, but Andriy Pylyavskyi sent his header wide and the hosts suffered a very costly defeat.
Maccabi Tel Aviv took an important step towards clinching third position and a place in the Europa League next season, ending a six-match winless streak with a 3-1 victory over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi midfielder Guillermo Israilevich was gifted the opener in the 16th minute after Salah Hasarma made a mess of his clearance, but Kiryat Shmona equalized in the 30th minute through a Shimon Abu Hazeira penalty after Tel Aviv midfielder Gal Alberman handled the ball in the box.
However, the hosts regained the lead six minutes after the break thanks to Eliran Atar. The Maccabi forward would go on to net one more goal a minute from time to secure his team’s victory after five defeats in its past six matches.
“We have been through a very difficult period and we are very pleased with this win,” Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir said.
“It is frustrating to hear fans cursing you and calling for your resignation and sometimes at home you ask yourself ‘what do I need this for?’ But I have a dream for this club and I hope I can realize it.”
Betar Jerusalem moved nine points clear of the bottom two on Saturday, thrashing Hapoel Ramat Gan 5-1 for its fourth straight win at Teddy Stadium.
Rock-bottom Ramat Gan, which hasn’t won in a record 27 matches, took a surprise lead after five minutes through Zion Zemah.
Betar equalized thanks to Aviram Bruchian’s free kick from 20 meters out in the 32nd minute and Hen Azriel completed the comeback 30 minutes later after an elegant team move.
Three minutes later, Jerusalem all but clinched the win.
Idan Tal scored from the penalty spot after Azriel was brought down in the box by Tal Hen, who was subsequently sent off.
Samuel Yeboah (78) and Shay Hadad (82) completed the rout for Betar, which can effectively secure itself another season of Premier League soccer with another home win against Hapoel Petah Tikva next week.
Ashdod SC also moved well clear of the relegation zone on Saturday, beating Hapoel Ashkelon 4-1.
Suad Filekovic gave Ashkelon the lead on the road in the 22nd minute, but four goals in the second half gave coach Yossi Mizrahi a win in his first league match since replacing John Gregory at the helm.
Idan Shriki (58), Dimitar Makriev (66, 78) and Moshe Ohayon (88) scored for Ashdod, which won for just the second time in 13 matches.
Also in the relegation playoffs, a 77th minute goal by Rafi Dahan gave Hapoel Petah Tikva a 1-1 draw with Bnei Sakhnin, which took the lead through Ahmed Kasoum five minutes into the second half.
In the mid-table playoffs, Maccabi Petah Tikva beat Hapoel Acre 4-1, with Omer Damari (26, 65), Tal Ben-Haim (61) and Murad Abu Anza (90) scoring for the winners, while Sagiv Cohen (42) netted a consolation goal for the visitors.
Hapoel Beersheba claimed its second straight win on Saturday, defeating Hapoel Haifa 2-1 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium thanks to goals from Ibrahim Bassit (46) and Siraj Naser (66), with Edan Ben-Basat (68) scoring for Haifa.