Hapoel Jerusalem stunned the defending back-to-back champions Maccabi Haifa 3-0 as Ofek Bitton’s first half brace put the capital city reds in control to take the surprise victory at Teddy Stadium. Bitton got Jerusalem on the board early as he scored from in close in the 22nd minute while he added his second of the game as he found the back of the goal off of Jordan Botaka’s corner kick for a 2-0 lead at the break. Ziv Arie’s squad added a third marker as Goni Naor sent William Togui a fantastic through ball which the striker buried behind a helpless Josh Cohen to wrap up the shocking victory.
“We have been playing well from the start of the season and our mindset has been very good,”Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie explained. “There were minutes in they game that we could have played even better than we did. We will keep working hard and the table is really irrelevant right now and I am the same Ziv Arie as last season where I will only sum up how we did at the end of the campaign.”
“Unfortunately we were still in Champions League mode,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar said. “We wanted to go 5 for 5 in the league ahead of the international break and we knew that if we didn’t come into the game properly we would be punished and that is what exactly happened. We saw right from the get go that it wasn’t going to be our game. I didn’t prepare the team well enough.”
Hapoel Beer Sheva slipped by Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 as Rotem Hatuel’s late goal was all that the southern reds needed to take the maximum points and the win.
“It was a tough game but we were able to create a lot of chances to score,” Beer Sheva bench boss Elyaniv Barda said. “I am very content that we have also not conceded a goal in sometime. We have played 8 contests in less than a month which has not been easy but the players all came into the game today with the right mindset and focus. The win is super important for us.”
“I’m very disappointed and I don’t know if we were even worth a point,” a dejected Sakhnin coach Haim Silvas lamented. “My feeling is that Beer Sheva was the better team and they deserved to win but we could have done more as well. I was disappointed in some of the things that we did and Beer Sheva rightfully won.”
Hapoel Hadera and Kiryat Shemona drew 1-1 in an entertaining battle to split the points. Muhamed Shaker gave the visiting northerners a second half lead but Niv Gutlieb found the back of the goal after having been reduced to ten men just minutes earlier to earn a point for their efforts.
“You need to know how to take a point, but the goal is to always play solid soccer,” Hadera coach Asaf Nimni said. “We didn’t take advantage of our chances and Kiryat Shemona knew what to do. I am happy that my players showed character and reacted well when we were down so I’ve got to give them credit for that.”
“We have a mental problem and I can’t accept that,” an angry Kiryat Shemona bench boss Menachem Koretzky commented. “Every week we give out presents which is unacceptable for a Premier League team to do and it’s like scoring an own goal.”