Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Beitar Jerusalem
Beitar Jerusalem figured out not only how to score when up one man but how to also win as they did just that in Haifa last night at Sammy Ofer Stadium. By defeating Maccabi Haifa 3-1 Beitar sent Greens coach Aleksandar Stanojević packing and ending his rocky term in Israel. The final straw may have been when Haifa ‘keeper Vladimir Stojković left his goal in injury time with his team down one to try to help his team find the equalizer. However, the exact opposite happened as Tomer Suissa was able to find a wide open net for the visitors, scoring his first for the yellow and black as well as sealing the win.
The match opened up in very tentative fashion with both clubs needing a positive result and not wanting to take too much risk as the first half produced few quality chances and the sides headed into half time deadlocked at nil-nil.
As controlled as the first half was, the exact opposite was in store for half number two. Veteran midfielder Gustavo Bocculi playing with a yellow card picked up in the 37th minute committed the cardinal sin of picking up a 2nd yellow and red card as he went in for a reckless tackle which brought the home side down to 10 men. Beitar, already having already experienced playing a man to the good Monday night and giving up three goals doing so to Hapoel Beer Sheva looked to be heading down that disastrous road. Just five minutes after Boculi’s sending off was it Alon Turgeman needed to give Haifa a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute which almost blew the top off the stadium.
Beitar & coach Menachem Koretzky dug in deep and gave themselves a gut check knowing what the result had been last week and how the supporters, management and others surrounding the team would react should they lose two weeks in a row up a man. And that is what they did. Suissa was sent on to provide some extra spark as the much maligned striker Itzik Cohen turned on the afterburners and was able to score two goals in the 83rd and 86th minutes to give Jerusalem the lead for good and send the 3000 travelling supporters into a frenzy!
When Haifa coach Stanojević arrived at the press conference you could see how much he was trying to control himself and he did for the first question. But when asked about keeper Stojković decision to leave his goal in hopes to help his club even the score the coach just lost it completely. He began taking his ‘keeper to task calling him stupid and making a stupid decision as one could feel his frustrations boiling over all over the press corps.
It’s not the first time Stanojević reacted this way, but it would be his last wearing a Maccabi Haifa training suit as you could say that this was the straw that broke the camels back. As he left the clubhouse for the last time you could see that this was a defeated man, knowing his time was over as the club. He would return the keys to owner Yakov Shachar who gave the Serbian chance after chance to right the ship, but he was just unable to do so.
Disappointing losses, poor offense, lousy defending and questionable game plans all played a factor in Stanojević’s demise. There was only going to be so many times that he could keep going back to the well and saying how frustrated he was with the team, how happy he was with the fans and their support and how he wants to leave but the owner wants him to stay.
Now it’s up so Marko Balbul to get the train back onto the tracks. Balbul a Maccabi haifa product had a wonderful year last season coaching Bnei Sakhnin taking them to the upper playoffs and is very close to former Greens manager Avram Grant following him to Partizan Belgrade and other locales.
Time will tell if Balbul will be able to not only get haifa to play to their potential or to the potential they should play too and also get the most out of captain Yossi Benayoun. That may be the biggest challenge of them all, with a Toto Cup Final on tap for Wednesday night against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Hapoel Raanana 0-2 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv kept rolling along with a small victory in not one of the club’s most impressive performances. Eden Ben Basat scored first and Carlos Garcia finished off Raanana scoring his first of the season off an Eran Zahavi pass. Zahavi didn’t score in the match which resulted in his 17 game scoring streak to come to an end as he finished the calendar year off with 35 goals which was the most ever in the Israeli league. He surpassed Alon Mizrachi & Nissim Elmaliach both of who had scored 34 goals. Maccabi plays Beer Sheva Monday night in a 2 vs 3 battle back at Bloomfield Stadium Maccabi’s home field which has not been in use for over a month due to radius penalties to the club due to the Derby chaos that took place against Hapoel Tel Aviv. Raanana has now gone 7 games without a win and have not seen any production out of striker Anthony Nwakaeme who has cooled down since his hot start to the season.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 0-1 Kiryat Shemona
David Manga scored the only goal of the game for the visitors heading in the ball for the slim 1-0 win over struggling Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Reds are trying to find some players over the transfer window and have a deal worked out to obtain Eliran Atar from Stade de Reims except the transfer fee still needs to be settled with the club. With the victory, Kiryat Shemona moves back into first place and continues their season long unbeaten streak.
Hapoel Beer Sheva 2-1 Hapoel Petach Tikva
Beer Sheva moved temporarily into 2nd place after a 2-1 win over Hapoel Petach Tikva at Wassermil Stadium in Beer Sheva. John Ogu opened the scoring for the home side early as Siraj Naser doubled Beer Sheva’s lead to 2-0 early on. However, Dor Kochav sliced lead in half to bring the visitors to within one. But that was all she wrote as a missed penalty call in favor of Petach Tikva could have evened up the match but it was not to be as referee Roie Reinstreiber could have used the help of replay.
Maccabi Petach Tikva 0-1 Maccabi Netanya
In front of 1000 fans Diaa Sabia scored one of the finest goals in Israel this season helping struggling Netanya to the three points. In the 67th minute Sabia made his way past three defenders and after a pass with Or Barouch pumped in the lone goal of the match. Netanya was without star striker Eran Levy due to yellow card accumulation but the crafty midfielder was all Netanya needed to pick up the win.
Hapoel Akko 1-3 Bnei Sakhnin
Akko had a dream start to the match with a 14th goal by Amir Abu-el-Nir but three unanswered goals by Bnei Sakhnin in the 2nd half may have sealed Akko coach Alon Harazi’s end. Mohammad Ghadir who is having a wonderful season scored in the 55th minute as Feras Magharbeh and Ismaeel Ryan added the other two goals to send the 2000 traveling Sakhnin fans home happy.
Ashdod 0-1 Hapoel Haifa
Haifa has come back to life winning its second match in a row this time in Ashdod. Coach Reuven Atar’s side received the only goal of the match from striker Ma’aran Lala as Ashdod coach Nir Klinger was very disappointed in his club’s poor play.