Maccabi Haifa just got by Hapoel Jerusalem 2-1 in a tough game by the Carmel Mountain. The Greens got off to a quick start as Abdoulaya Seck nodded home an Omer Atzily corner kick to give the hosts an early lead just minutes after the opening whistle but a Guy Badash penalty in the 15th minute knotted the game up at 1-1.
However, it didn’t take for Atzily to find himself in front of a wide open goal and slot home the go ahead marker in the 18th minute. Despite chance after chance by the capital city reds, Haifa’s keeper Roie Mishpati was up to the task time and time again as he was able to keep the score as is for the balance of the game as Barak Bachar’s team took the 3-points.
“We need to come in and play properly at home,” a disturbed Bachar began. “It’s hard to sum up this game as our play was very disappointing and we need to improve, this can’t continue. It can’t be that our keeper bailing us out with one save after another, we can’t rely on that especially at home and especially when we are in the lead. We will need to sit down and take a good look at things.”
“We deserved more than a point in this game,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said. “I’m not interested in kudos for our performance. As we have done against the bigger teams, we played well on the attack but were a bit soft on defense. We played true soccer and despite giving up an early goal we came back but then conceded immediately after that.”
Maccabi Netanya slipped by Hapoel Haifa 1-0 as Liran Rotman pounced on a 14th minute rebound and slotted home for the lone goal of the game that handed the diamond city side the 3-points and the win.
“It was important for us to win this game in front of our home crowd,” Netanya coach Ron Kozuk began. “I believe that we are in the midst of a good run along with positive results that has influenced our confidence. It was crucial for us to come into this game with the goal of taking the 3-points and be part of the top half of the table.”
“This was a very even game, but at the end of the day that’s soccer,” Haifa coach Roni Levy said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t find a way to come back in this game and as it went on we didn’t play as well as we had earlier on. But now we have to just put this behind us and move on.”
Ashdod blanked Bnei Reineh 3-0 as three different goal scorers found markers as the port city side took the 3-points. Muhammed Knaan was yanked down in the box in the 20th minute and then slotted home the spot kick for the lead which Naor Sabag doubled just before the break with a terrific strike to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage. Roie Ben Shimon then finished off the victory in the 80th minute as he beat keeper Arik Yanko to secure the win.
“This game showed the faith that I have in this club,” Ashdod coach Ran Ben Shimon said. “We had some tough losses recently but we showed that we could play and things came together in this game. We controlled the pace of play, we played smart and I am very happy about that.”
“We didn’t begin the game well as we had wanted to,” Reineh bench boss Sharon Mimer explained. “We didn’t play well on defense and on offense and when you come into a game like this which is life or death and play like this then you have a problem. We are going through a period of time that the players have no confidence.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Nes Ziona drew 1-1 to split the points as Haim Silvas made his debut on the sidelines for the Reds at Bloomfield Stadium. After a goalless first half, Hapoel captain Dan Einbinder who headed home the opening marker of the match in the 48th minute but ten minutes later Levan Kutalia found the equalizer as each side took a point a piece.
“I’m disappointed and the result is important for us,” Silvas said following the game. “The issues we had before are the same ones now. Everyone here needs to pick it up and we need to improve as a club. The players did was they could and we are just not good enough right now.”
“We have to take points and its too bad we couldn’t do more because our defense was solid,” Nes Ziona coach Shlomi Dura said. “We played correctly and we weren’t afraid to play the ball. If we can just improve the little things, a goal like the one we scored would hold up.”
Kiryat Shemona and Hapoel Hadera played to a spirited 2-2 draw up up north to split the points. Itamar Shviro opened the scoring in the 10th minute to give Nir Berkovic’s squad a 1-0 lead but Steven Alfred found the tying goal right before the break to head into halftime all knotted up at 1-1. Saar Fadida teamed up with Alfred to then give the visitors a 2-1 lead in the 47th minute but Ivan Bakhar finished off a nice team play by Kiryat Shemona to draw even and take a point in a barnburner of a matchup.
“We really bunged up this game,” Berkovic began. “We weren’t focused and that’s why we fell behind. But a point is important for us as the bottom of the table is very tight and now have to wait until next week to try and take the maximum points. One moment where we lacked focus cost us.”
“I am disappointed,” Hadera coach Asaf Nimni said. “We played on a tough pitch and we were able to comeback form being down to taking the lead and we could have broken our opponent, but we didn’t take advantage of our situation and that was too bad. We have to understand that it’s very hard to win a game in this league.”