Maccabi Haifa stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-2 as the Greens scored three unanswered goals in the final quarter hour of the game to take the 3-points and keep pace with first place Hapoel Beer Sheva. The victory was Haifa’s first in league play over the yellow-and-blue in more than five years as they had gone winless in 16 straight matches.
Mladen Krstajic’s charges jumped all over the Barak Bachar’s squad in the first minute when Eduardo Guerrero sent a good ball into the box off a corner kick and it was inadvertently headed by Dolev Haziza behind his own ‘keeper Josh Cohen for a 1-0 lead. Eden Shamir doubled the advantage 15 minutes later when when sent a beautiful ball into the Haifa goal from 20 meters out in what was clearly a goal of the season candidate.
As the yellow-and-blue continued to control the pace of play, Bachar inserted Godsway Donyoh in the 71st minute which changed the entire complexion of the game. Five minutes after entering the contest, Donyoh sent a magnificent through ball to Tjaron Chery who beat Tel Aviv keeper Daniel Peretz to cut the lead to 2-1. Just a few minutes later Donyoh drew the Greens even at 2-2 when he slammed home an Omer Atzili pass in the 79th minute.
Haifa continued to press and found the winner when Atzili sent a goalmouth pass right onto the oncoming Dean David’s foot who scored from in close to shock the yellow-and-blue and take the victory.
This was tough but we did it as winners,” Bachar said following the clash. “The early goals put us under pressure and at halftime I told the players that we needed to calm down and do what we normally do on the pitch and we will come back and maybe even win the game. The deficit put us in a situation that we hadn’t been in all season long but we were able to pull it together.”
Muhammed Abu Fani also reflected on the win, “This was a very hard game for us and we are able to comeback to take the win. We are very mentally strong and showed that in this game. Our goal is to find our way into first place and we will focus on our own play going forward.”
“The game was under control but we will need to analyze what happened in the second half,” a disappointed Krstajic said. “We knew that Haifa would take some risks and I am not satisfied as to the reaction of the players. We also had some injuries and perhaps that played a factor in our losing our minds on the pitch.”