Tough times continue for Maccabi Haifa

Greens’ humbling 4-2 loss to Hapoel Rishon Lezion puts coach Levy’s job in jeopardy.

Elisha Levy 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Elisha Levy 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Elisha Levy may have coached his last match at Maccabi Haifa after the reigning champion dropped a twogoal lead and suffered an embarrassing 4-2 defeat at struggling Hapoel Rishon Lezion on Saturday.
It was just seven months ago that Levy was being carried on shoulders of adoring fans after guiding the Greens to their second Premier League championship in three years.
However, a season which began erratically has spiraled out of control in recent weeks, with Haifa losing four of its last six league matches, while also being knocked out of the Europa League after falling in its final three group games.
Haifa seemed well on course to a confidence-boosting victory on Saturday after taking a 2-0 lead at Rishon in just eight minutes courtesy of Vladimir Dvalishvili’s brace (4, 8).
However, Asi Baldut’s header in the 13th minute got Rishon back into the game and the hosts didn’t need much longer to move into the lead, with David Gomez scoring twice within seven minutes (20, 26).
Asaf Cohen put the icing on the cake for Rishon in second half stoppage time to secure the team will end its 16-match winless streak and Haifa owner Jacob Shahar admitted after the match: “the crisis is deeper than we thought”.
Levy was understandably disappointed after yet another disastrous showing by his team, but he claimed that he currently has no intention of quitting.
“We can’t deny the situation the team is in, but I’m not considering resigning,” Levy said. “The team is playing without confidence even when it has a 2-0 lead and every goal we concede has a snowball effect. I’ll meet with Shahar and we’ll decide what to do.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to second place in the table for at least 48 hours on Saturday, winning for the first time in five games with a 2-1 victory over Hapoel Acre at Bloomfield Stadium.
A Moshe Mishaelof own goal gave the Reds the lead after less than two minutes and the hosts cruised following Toto Tamuz’s strike (25), with Nenad Marinkovic’s goal for Acre three minutes from time little consolation for the visitors, who have lost three of four encounters.
Ashdod SC will climb back to second place if it avoids defeat on Monday night when it hosts leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona in a top-of-the-table clash no one dared to predict at the start of the season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is closing in on the top four after winning its second straight match on Saturday, beating Bnei Sakhnin 3-1 on the road.
Maharan Radi put the hosts in front with a sensational strike from 20 meters out in the 10th minute, but Munas Dabbur (36) equalized against the run of play and Barak Itzhaki (73) and Eliran Atar (81) secured another three points for Maccabi, which recorded consecutive wins for the first time since beginning the season with four straight victories.
Hapoel Beersheba looked to have all but wrapped up a fifth win in six matches when Dovev Gabai (4, 36, 49) completed his hat-trick to give Guy Levy’s side a 3-0 lead in the 49th minute of its match at Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
However, the hosts recorded a superb comeback and claimed a deserved point after Baruch Dego equalized in the second minute of stoppage time, with Savity Lipenia (57) and Moshe Abutbul (62) beginning the fight back at Winter Stadium.
Despite starting the season with a nine-point deduction, Hapoel Petah Tikva refuses to accept relegation to the National League, claiming a sweet 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva in the local derby on Saturday.
Armon Ben-Naim scored the winner in the 71st and brought Hapoel within seven points of climbing out of the relegation zone.
After failing to keep a clean sheet in its first 17 matches of the season, Maccabi Netanya didn’t concede a goal for a second straight game on Saturday, recording another 1-0 victory, this time over Bnei Yehuda, thanks to Ahmed Saba’s 88th minute winner.