Maccabi Haifa blasted Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-0 as the hosts were handed an early red card which allowed the Greens an easy time to move to the top of table. Dolev Haziza took care of a beautiful team play to give the Greens a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute while soon thereafter, Yarden Cohen was issued a red card for a reckless foul on Raz Meir which left Nir Klinger’s squad a man short for the vast majority of the game. Dean David doubled the advantage in the 27th minute when he put home a Haziza ball, while substitutes Maor Levy and Ben Sahar each found the back of the goal to wrap up a dominant win.
“We put an emphasis on how we started the game and everyone could see that we were looking to win from the outset,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar noted. “This may have been the best we started a game in the last two seasons. We suffered a bit in the second half and could have given up a goal but we knew what to do and of course are very happy with a 4-0 win.”
“If we would have had some better quality and confidence we could have come back in this game,” Petach Tikva coach Nir Klinger said. “You could see we had some good chances and we looked to go forward. We have some players here but we need to make some changes and that is where we are heading.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-0 on a 65th minute goal by Osama Khalaila to send the southern reds to not only their first loss of the season but they also dropped out of first place as Maccabi Haifa moved into the top spot. After a goalless first half, Gaby Kanichowsky’s attempt glanced off of Khalaila who was onside in the box as the ball went past Omri Glazer for the lone marker of the game.
“I want to congratulate my players on a wonderful performance and the terrific character they showed in the win,” yellow-and-blue coach Mladen Kristajic commented following the game. “It was tough to get over the last game against Maccabi Haifa and we had to encourage the players. But this is the Maccabi we want to see.”
“We are very disappointed with the result,” Beer Sheva coach Roni Levy said. “We knew that this would be a tough game especially after they had a bad loss. Unfortunately we didn’t get into the game well. While we held them to no chances in the first half we should have scored and in the second half they were just much more dominant.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv blanked Hapoel Haifa 2-0 to take the 3-points at Sammy Ofer Stadium. Ofek Bitton gave the Reds a 1-0 lead from 12 meters out in the 34th minute while Shay Elias elegantly put the ball over keeper Tal Bomshtein late in the second half to secure the two goal victory.
“If you see the gap between us and Hapoel Haifa you’ll understand that this was an important win,” Tel Aviv coach Kobi Refuah began after the win. “The guys didn’t play a great game but they battled and worked hard especially the younger players who were featuring in their first match. When I took over this job I said that we had some excellent players and when there are injuries I believed that they could step in.”
“We aren’t making the right play when we get to the last part of the pitch,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy lamented. “They had two chances and they knew how to take advantage of them and we couldn’t even find an opportunity despite being in control. We should not have lost this game and that second goal just broke us as there wasn’t enough time to comeback.”
Kiryat Shemona demolished Hapoel Nof HaGalil 6-2 as coach Slobodan Drapic had no mercy on his former coaching partner Shay Barda who was making his debut on the sidelines for the Galilee squad. Morgan Ferrier began the game off in earnest as he scored the opening goal for the northern side in the 7th minute and fed Roie Kehat for the second goal just a minute later to go up 2-0 inside of ten minutes of play.
Yevgeni Berkman pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 16th minute but ten minutes later a straight red card to David Acquah opened the flood gates for Kiryat Shemona as Eyad Habshi scored on the ensuing penalty, which was followed up by an own goal along with strikes by Guy Ben Lulu and Adrien Rotchet wrapped up the win.
“This was very good and three important points for us but we the score doesn’t really reflect the fact that we didn’t play that well,” Drapic explained. “We took advantage of the opportunities we were given and this game allowed us to move farther away from the bottom of the table.”
“I just arrived and tried to give the guys renewed energy but it just didn’t work out,” Barda said. “I am not going to start giving excuses because of the red card because even before that we weren’t playing well. The team needs to make some additions to strengthen the squad and that was part of the deal as to why I agreed to take this job.”
Ashdod SC defeated Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 on two second-half goals to move into a Championship Playoff position and snatch the three points. After a goalless first half, the visiting port city squad grabbed a 1-0 lead on a Muhammed Knaan header and added a late insurance goal via Oz Bilu to wrap up the victory.
“This was by far the best game we had this season in a place that is very tough to play in,” Ashdod coach Ran Ben Shimon explained. “We have a good team and we are looking at where we are on the table and right now we are in a Championship Playoff spot in sixth place. Anyone who says that they aren’t looking at the standings just are not telling the truth.”
“The way we played was disgraceful,” a disappointed Beitar coach Yossi Mizrachi. “You can lose but when you lose like the way we did in 95 minutes without playing defense, with no offense and with no effort then this should be a huge red light for the club.”
Hapoel Hadera and Maccabi Netanya drew 1-1 in a feisty affair as the diamond city side needed an 88th-minute goal to earn a point. Hadera went on the attack early, but Ivalyo Markov was sent off with a straight red card giving Benny Lam’s squad a man advantage. However, Gustavo Marmentini broke free, went 60 meters downfield and slotted the ball past a helpless Dani Amos to give Menachem Koretsky’s Hadera a 1-0 lead just ahead of the halftime break. Netanya looked to find the equalizer for the entire second half and finally found it off a corner kick that Shir Tzedek pounced on from in close to give his side a split of the points.
“I know my players and I did everything we could in this match,” Lam said following the game. “I brought on strikers, midfielders and defensive backs, everything other than me going onto the pitch to play. I knew that if we were in a deficit, Hadera would waste as much time as possible but we took a point against a team that we lost to in the first round of matches.”
“I think we played a very good game especially in the first half,” Koretzky explained. “We knew how to hold onto the ball and we were able to create chances against a team that rarely gives them up. I am proud of the guys as they ran, battled and if we keep playing like this, we should win some games.”