Victorious Maccabi Haifa are in a league of their own

Defending national champions finish first round perfect, despite trailing on Saturday 1-0 in the 75th minute.

maccabi haifa 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
maccabi haifa 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Reigning champion Maccabi Haifa continues to rip through the Premier League this season. The greens prevailed on Saturday despite trailing 1-0 in the 75th minute. Thanks largely to a Roberto Colautti brace, Haifa defeated host Maccabi Netanya 3-1 to finish the first round of league matches with a perfect 11-0 record. Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv moved up to second in the standings with an impressive 3-0 win over Hapoel Petah Tikva, with former Petah Tikva player Ilya Yevorian among the scorers. Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Petah Tikva had very little to show for in a 0-0 stalemate that virtually ended Tel Aviv's European qualification chances. Upper Nazareth beat Bnei Sakhnin 3-2 and Ashdod thrashed Hapoel Kfar Saba 5-0 in crucial bottom-of-the-table fixtures. Betar Jerusalem visits Bnei Yehuda on Sunday night in a battle for the second place. Around 4,000 fans of the yellow-and-black fans plan to make the trip to Herzliya Stadium. Left back David Amsalem and defender Tomer Haliva have been ruled out of the fixture due to injury. On the other hand, midfielder Idan Malichi has returned to training and will open in the starting lineup. Maccabi Netanya 1, Maccabi Haifa 3 Maccabi Haifa visited "The Box" looking for its 11th straight win, a feat last achieved by Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 1994 season. However, it was Reuven Atar's squad that took the lead in the 15th minute. Forward Alen Masudi took control of the ball at the edge of the box, advanced on goal and sent the ball past Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch. The yellows held off the visitors' attacks and were on their way to handing Haifa its first defeat of the season, but lost their concentration in the closing stages. Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Boccoli found Colautti in the penalty area and sent him a pinpoint pass. The Argentinean finished accurately to level the score in the 75th minute. Colautti was not finished, however, and in the 84th minute took advantage of a blunder by the Netanya defense to give Haifa the lead. Boccoli sealed the win for the league frontrunners when he sent in a low drive from 20 meters out in added time. Netanya striker Papi Kimoto was sent off after a reckless tackle on Davidovitch a minute after Boccoli's goal. Maccabi Tel Aviv 0, Maccabi Petah Tikva 0 While the match was played cautiously, with all players concentrating on their defensive duties, the Maccabi Tel Aviv fans showed up in black shirts to protest the club's policies. Eyal Berkovic was back in the lineup and showed flashes of genius, but the "Luzons" did a good job of marking the Tel Aviv attackers and slowed down the pace of the game. Maccabi Tel Aviv sweeper Avi Strul was sent off in the 62nd minute after he fouled Omer Golan while attempting to foil a counter attack led by Soli Tzemach. Petah Tikva pushed forward after the sending off and attacked Liran Strauber's goal on numerous occasions, but the Tel Aviv 'keeper was unbeatable and pulled off some spectacular saves, and his team earned a valuable point. Hapoel Petah Tikva 0, Hapoel Tel Aviv 3 Petah Tikva applied the pressure and was the better team in the opening minutes. Manor Hasan initiated many attacks, but teenage sensation Toto Tamuz was inaccurate in front of goal and failed to score. The visitors took advantage of the first chance they got in the 27th minute. Veteran Yossi Abuksis sent the ball towards Rafi Cohen's goal, which caused a mix-up in the blues' defense. Striker Ilya Yevorian, who was lurking unmarked in the area, tapped the ball in. Hapoel Tel Aviv struck again within five minutes. Youngster Gili Vermut made a brilliant run on the right flank and crossed the ball towards the near post. Omer Peretz was on the mark with his strong header, leaving Cohen helpless. The fate of the encounter was sealed in the 70th minute when Shimon Gershon converted a penalty after Baruch Dego was fouled in the box. Ashdod SC 5, Hapoel Kfar Saba 0 Only 1,000 fans turned up to witness this match, which turned out to be fatal for Hapoel Kfar Saba and probably ended its chances of surviving in the top division after this season. David Revivo set up Emanuel Oveide, who stabbed the ball in from five meters to give the hosts the lead in the 21st minute. The visitors were left with ten players in the 41st minute when Avi Avinu received his second yellow card of the game after a foul on Felix Obuka. Adir Tubul (48), Shai Holtzman (74), Moshe Ohayon (83) and Revivo (86) completed the rout. Upper Nazareth 3, Bnei Sakhnin 2 In the first match of the weekend Friday afternoon, Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth beat Bnei Sakhnin in a dramatic and tense encounter. Guillermo Israelevic (22) gave the hosts an early lead but Juninho Olivera's own goal (29) and Pasqual Kondafoni (38) put the visitors ahead before halftime. Howver, Upper Nazareth struck back with two quick goals in the second half. Olivera made up for his mistake in the 57th minute and Shahar Siman Tov scored three minutes later to give the hosts the victory.