Maccabi Haifa pummeled Hapoel Nof HaGalil 4-0 as four different goal scorers found the back of the net to stay in the titles hunt. Omer Atzily headed home a Raz Meir ball to open the scoring in the first half while Dean David took a Jose Rodriguez through ball and put it behind Stefan Marinovic for a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute. Muhamed Abu Fani and Dolev Haziza each scored late in the game to wrap up the easy conquest.
“I really liked how the players came into this game,”Barak Bachar said. “We played in a tough stadium against a very well organized team and we were able to do what we needed to. We pressed and play well and we beat a pretty good team.”
“This was just too much for us,”Nof HaGalil coach Yaron Hochenboim said. “This is one of the best Maccabi Haifa teams ever and they had some pretty good ones. We aren’t at the level we need to be individually or as a team.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 as Stipe Perica nodded home the winning goal to take the valuable 3-points at Teddy Stadium. Brandley Kuwas scored off a Ofir Kriaf miscue to give Barak Itzhaki’s squad an 1-0 lead but Yarden Shua redirected a free kick behind Maccabi keeper Daniel Peretz to tie up the game at 1-1 ahead of halftime. Stipe Perica then came to the rescue with a header off an Ofir Davidzada cross to take all 3-points.
“We were the better team,” Maccabi interim coach Barak Itzhaki began. “I’ve played here and I know what it’s like to play against Beitar the way they look now. They played well but the better team won the game. We have a lot of games coming in and we have to split up the time between the players in order to successfully get through it.”
Gal Cohen who is serving as Beitar’s interim coach looked back at his club’s effort, “We didn’t succeed today but I believe that we can collect some points as we really need them.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem played to an entertaining 1-1 draw to split the points. Guy Hadida had a chance to put Jerusalem on the board in the 10th minute with a penalty, but his spot kick was saved by the Reds keeper Ernestas Setkus. Jerusalem’s Awake Ashta was sent off with his second yellow card in the 33rd minute, but that didn’t stop Hadida for making amends on his penalty miss earlier in the game as he slotted home the ball from the spot just ahead of halftime after a handball was called in the box. However, Nir Klinger’s squad found the equalizer via Denny Gruper midway through the second half as each team took home a point.
“Sometimes there are games like this,” Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Nir Klinger began his post game remarks. “I believe that ww tried everything that we could. Our first half was not good and in the second half we didn’t make intelligent enough plays in the last part of the field.”
“Other than two games this season we stood toe to toe with everyone,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said. “I have mixed feelings after a game like this but a draw with a man down is a good result for us.”
Ashdod blanked Maccabi Petach Tikva 1-0 to win their third game in a week by the exact same scoreline. After downing Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Jerusalem, Ran Ben Shimon’s squad visited the Moshava Stadium and used a 72nd strike by Fahad Bayo as he took care of a Kenny Saief through ball to take the 3-points and the victory as they swiftly moved up the table with 9 points over the last 7 days.
“We spoke about how this was going to an important game for Petah Tikva snd we had a very bad first half,” Ben Shimon began following the game. “We came into this game to win and we needed to just wait until the right moment and we did it. The players deserve a ton of credit and they have huge hearts.”
“Over the past few games we played awful soccer and we were anemic,” Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon said. “But this game we were organized and we had enough chances to score and decide the game. It’s too bad and it’s disappointing but we have to continue on.”
Hapoel Hadera downed Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 as striker Shoval Gozlan scored a brace to capture the 3-points. Gozlan broke a goalless deadlock just at the stroke of halftime when he headed home a Gustavo Marmentini corner kick for a 1-0 lead. Gozlan doubled the advantage in the 60th minute as Marmentini sent a perfect through ball to the marksman who made no mistake to help Hadera go up 2-0. Mufleh Shalata pulled a goal back with a 20 meter scorcher in the 92nd minute but the goal was too little too late to help the visitors.
“I am happy that we moved yet another 3-points away from the relegation zone,” Menachem Koretzky explained. “We didn’t take the last little while to hard when we weren’t playing our best as we were without a full squad. We are getting the maximum out of the players that are playing and we took some important points.”
“This was a very even game against a good team,” Sakhnin coach Sharon Mimer said. “Each team had momentum throughout the game and we didn’t take advantage of our chances while they did.”
Kiryat Shemona downed Maccabi Netanya 2-1 as Ziv Morgan’s 94th minute strike snatched the 3-points for the northerners. Aviv Avraham gave visiting Netanya a quick 1-0 lead with a 2nd minute goal but Yadin Lugassi found the equalizer when he pounded home his own rebound right before the half-time break. As the game wound down and it looked as if a split of the points was in the offing, Ziv Morgan scored the winner deep into second half injury time to take the win.
“We understand our situation and all of sudden we began playing qualify soccer,” Kiryat Shemona head coach Slobodan Drapic explained. “We need to take as many points and we can and we feel that we can play better as well. I was already set on a 1-1 draw but then out of nowheres we scored the winner and it was a real Hanukah miracle.”
“We didn’t expect this but that is the life of a coach,” Netanya bench boss Benny Lam began. “We deserved to take some points despite this not being one of our best games. I tried to change things up but it just didn’t work. The pace that we are collecting points worried me and we will need to see where we are in next month with that.