Maccabi Haifa dominated Kiryat Shemona 4-2 after a first half red card to the northerner’s ‘keeper Džiugas Bartkus left Kobi Refuah’s squad a man short for close to 60 minutes. Lucio gave visiting Kiryat Shemona a shock 1-0 advantage as Saikou Touray supplied the Brazilian an excellent corner to head home for the opening goal of the game. However, two minutes later Omer Atzili sent Bogdan Planic a percent ball that he out home in the box to draw the Greens even.
Muhammed Abu Fani put the hosts in front when he sent a 25 meter scorcher behind Bartzkus in the 24th minute who was then issued a straight red card less than ten minutes later after purposely kicking the ball into Yanic Wildschut leaving Kiryat Shemona with a man short for the balance of the clash. Abu Fani teamed up with Donio in the 54th minute as the former recorded the brace while less than quarter hour later the latter found the back of the goal to wrap up the dominant win as Abdallah Khlaikhal pulled a goal back just before the final whistle.
“We have a very good squad which is deep and I am happy that players who haven’t played as much this season like Yanic Wildschut and Taleb Tawhatcha did a great job,” said Haifa coach Barak Bachar. “Of course it would be better if we could play with a fulls squad but little by little players are coming back and I hope that ahead of the playoffs everyone will be ready to go.”
“We led at the 8th minute and very quickly Haifa drew even on a set piece and we gave up a foolish goal,” explained Kobi Refuah. “We then gave up another goal, received a red card and that was it, the game was over. The players gave their maximum and I told them that after the game.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv slipped by Maccabi Netanya 1-0 on a 30th minute own goal by Zlatan Sehovic to earn the clean sheet and grab the three points. Sehovic attempted to clear a Ben Bitton cross but accidentally slammed it into his won goal behind ‘keep Dani Amos to hand the Reds the win.
“We played very well in the first half and could have scored more goals,” said assistant coach Salim Tuama. “I’m happy for the players who fought for these three very important points. We may be in the bottom half of the table but we are playing well now as we came into this game very focussed.”
“I believe in the second half we played how we like to as we controlled the ball while in the first half we were a bit nervous and I don’t know why,” explained Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld. “We missed many good chances and that was the problem.”
Hapoel Hadera downed Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 to take three very critical points in the relegation battle. Liran Rotman, who arrived recently from Beitar Jerusalem, took the ball dribbled by a couple of defenders and pounded the ball home for the lone strike of the contest handing coach Menachem Koretzky’s squad the victory.
“In our state we can’t afford to take breath easy as we have plenty of work fo do,” said Koretzky. “We are standing toe to toe with some excellent teams at the bottom of the league and the season is still very long. We haven’t done anything yet. We have to add parameters to our game and know how to kill it much earlier.”
This was a typical bottom of the table match with very little football,’ explained Kfar Saba coach Elisha Levy. “In these types of games the result is much more important than the style of play. We knew the type of game we were heading into but we needed to be more patient.”
Hapoel Haifa dropped Bnei Sakhinn 1-0 at Doha Stadium as Haim Silvas’s team picked up the points and the win. After a goalless first half, Hanan Maman took a William Agada pass and put the ball behind Muhammed Kandil for the only marker of the matchup.
“We knew that this was going to be difficult but we were patient,” explained winning coach Haim Silvas. “I’m happy that we were able to record a clean sheet and that was the key to winning the game. We are a good team and were able to control the game, I don’t even remember if Saknin threatened our goal.”
“It’s never pleasant to lose and this was a very painful result,” said Bnei Sakhnin Niso Avitan. “We came in ready to play but as the game played on we just got worse. Our issue is well known as we have trouble wining points at home and this is frustrating to everyone.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva defeated Bnei Yehuda 1-0 thanks to an early goal by Guy Hadida in the 4th minute to take the win and the points. Tomer Levi raced down the left flank and put a perfect pass onto Hadida’s head to nod home the only goal of the game to hand Guy Luzon’s team the points.
“For us this was a game of the year,” explained a content Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon. “We knew that a defeat would move us close to falling out of the championship playoffs and a win would put us in a decent situation. We were aggressive in the first half and we created chances as we claimed the points.”
“We just didn’t show up in the first half and were shocked when we gave up the first goal,” said Bnei Yehuda bench boss Yossi Abuksis. “We had some chances in the second half but this was just one of those days when the ball just doesn’t go into the back of the goal.”