Haifa rolls over Netanya on Atzily hat-trick, Sakhnin shock Hapoel Tel Aviv, Ashdod downs Nes Ziona

Aug 27, 2022 | Football

Maccabi Haifa has a big fall in store for themselves after advancing to the UEFA Champions League group stages along with local Israeli league action for what should be a super few months coming up. The Greens were drawn into Group H where they will play Ligue 1’s Paris Saint Germain, Juventus from Serie A and Benfica from Portugal.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Ramos will be returning to Israel after having just played the French Super Cup against Nantes earlier in the month as they will visit Sammy Ofer Stadium by the Carmel Mountain on Wednesday September 14th. Juventus will make their third trip to the Holy Land after having played Maccabi Tel Aviv back in 2004 and Haifa in 2009 as the Italian powerhouse will be in Israel on Tuesday October 11th during the Sukkot Holiday. Finally, Benfica will make their first venture to Israel when they take come to town on Wednesday November 2nd.

However, before Barak Bachar’s squad opens up the Champions League campaign on the road in Lisbon against Benfica next week, the Greens have a number of domestic clashes as they passed their first test at home with a 4-1 win over Maccabi Netanya as Omer Atzily scored a hat-trick in the victory.

Benny Lam’s team opened the scoring as Igor Zlatanovic scored a header to give the diamond city squad a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. But Atzily nodded home a Pierre Cornud ball just at the stroke of halftime to draw the hosts even. In the 78th minute Atzily was yanked down in the box and slotted home a penalty while he added his third of the game ten minutes later when he curled in a gorgeous goal to help Haifa to a 3-1 lead. As the contest moved into injury time, Atzily played facilitator for Tjaron Chery’s goal as Bachar’s team grabbed the points with four unanswered goals.

“The staff proved that they are the very best as they prepared the players well both physically and mentally and we knew how to comeback from a deficit against a very strong team,” Bachar commented. “In the second half we went back to the basics and our substitutes also helped matters in taking the win.”

“The penalty broke us,” Lam said. “It shouldn’t have happened and I am disappointed. The game could have ended 2-1 and it didn’t have to end 4-1. Haifa played well and had opportunities, but what occurred here doesn’t reflect our team, I hope that we will be able to improve our play.”

Omer Atzily also reflected on the win, “We derived this and not only are we happy about advancing to the Champions League we were happy to come back home to Sammy Ofer and we are very happy with the result. This is the best team that I have played with and we look great. we have players of the highest level and you can see that when we are scoring three or four goals in a game.”

In European play, Hapoel Beer Sheva advanced to the UEFA Conference League group stages after the defeated Craiova 4-3 on penalties after having had drawn 1-1 in both the first and second legs of the playoff round. Southern Reds keeper Omri Glazer came up huge in the penalty shootout stopping two spot kicks to see Elyaniv Barda’s squad through.

After 90 minutes of goalless play, Ante Roguljic scored on a free kick in the 105th minute, but Tomer honed came right back for the hosts to draw even as the match headed to penalties where Glazer’s heroics saved the day to help Beer Sheva punch their ticket to the group stages for the first time.

The Reds will now head to the group stages where they will match up against La Liga powerhouse Villarreal, Austria Wien and Lech Poznan.

“We played a very good game,” Barda said following the game. “We created many chanced but we couldn’t finish them. The guys never lost confidence that we could do it and we had a red army of 16,000 fans backing us up. We made it past three very good teams.”

“We had very tough games against very high level teams to get to the group stages,” keeper Omri Glazer said. “We had to suffer in order to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We all deserved this and practiced all week long. However, we haven’t proven anything just yet as we have the group stages, the league and cup ahead of us.”

Tomer Hemed reflected on the win, “To win a game like this is a real team effort. I may have scored but everyone gave their heart and soul. We did it and it doesn’t matter how as we were able to meet our goal. This was a very tough game and we saw how physical they are form last weeks game. We need to work on our game but we will learn from this match and the result is most important.”

In France, Maccabi Tel Aviv were eliminated from Conference League play after falling at Nice 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate)after conceding a goal in overtime as they will not play in the group stages of the competition. Alexis Claude-Maurice scored in the first half to even up the two-legged tie and Alexis Beka Beka found the winner in the extra session to see the Ligue 1 side through.

Yellow-and-blue keeper Daniel Peretz spoke about the defeat, “It’s really disappointing and we had chances to score but to give up a goal like this we have to look at it as that it’s for the good and we have to just move on. Nice is super quality team and the toughest club to get in the draw. I’m proud of the entire team and the fans as well, there is nothing that we can do.”

In other Israeli soccer action, Bnei Sakhnin stunned Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium as winger Nicolao Dumitru scored a first half brace in the win. Taleb Tawhatha sent Dumitru a terrific cross in the box that the latter put home in the 11th minute while 20 minutes later the winger found the back of the goal once again as he pounced on a loose ball following a cover kick to secure the victory.

“It’s great to begin the season this way,” Sakhnin coach Haim Silvas said. “To come to this stadium against this team and win in our first game is just perfect. We made our fans very happy as well as ourselves and we could have even won by more goals. Next up is Maccabi Haifa later this week and that will be a big physical test.”

“No one can believe what has been happening to us, but things happen in soccer,” Hapoel coach Kobi Refuah said following the loss. “You can play poorly but when the opponent begins to press us easily it is very worrying. I have to see why and we need to improve. as we are giving us goals that should not happen at this level.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem and Kiryat Shemona drew 1-1 as the sides split the points up in the northern capital. Itamar Shviro continued his goal scoring run as the striker gave Menachem Koretzky’s the lead in the 9th minute but Cedric Don headed home the tying marker in the second half for the capital city reds as each team earned a point.

“We started the game well and scored an early goal but we didn’t show up in the second half,” Koretzky said. “We stayed back and we should have pressed and attack in order to score a second goal. We didn’t deserve more than a point but we will take it and move on.”

“We came into this game looking tired and our poor start for the second time in as many weeks led to an early goal,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said. “But I will take the fact that we came back and we played well after we drew even.”

Finally, Ashdod blanked Sektzia Nes Ziona 1-0 on a Nenad Cvetkovic header goal in the 45th minute off a short corner kick to hand the port city side the 3-points and the win.

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