Maccabi Tel Aviv moved back tied on points with Premier League leader Hapoel Beersheba on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Haifa 1-0 despite failing to register a single shot on target in Netanya.
Maccabi claimed its 13th victory in 14 matches over all competitions since coach Shota Arveladze was sacked at the beginning of January.
But despite only trailing Beersheba on goal difference ahead of the reigning champion’s match against Beitar Jerusalem at Turner Stadium on Monday, Maccabi has got plenty to mull over after a far from impressive showing on Sunday.
Haifa’s goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen didn’t have to make a single save in the match, with Maccabi’s winner coming from an own goal in the 25th minute. Dor Peretz, who joined Haifa on loan from Maccabi, tried to clear Dor Micha’s cross, but instead found the back of his own net with a diving header, giving Tel Aviv its ninth league win from the past 10 games.
Despite his team’s mediocre performance, Maccabi coach Lito Vidigal insisted he was pleased.
“When I came here my objective was to win all the games until the end of the regular season and we did that, which is very important,” said Vidigal after his fourth straight victory at the helm. “I think we are heading in the right direction. We are fighters and we will fight in all our games.”
Beersheba’s match against Beitar is the first of three straight home games for the reigning champion.
Hapoel hosts Maccabi Haifa in their championship playoff opener next weekend before welcoming Maccabi Tel Aviv to Turner Stadium.
Beersheba has won 11 of 12 home games to date this season, picking up 34 of a possible 36 points. It hasn’t lost a league match at Turner since the stadium opened at the start of 2015/16, a run of 29 games which includes 23 wins and six draws.
“We felt the championship playoffs started for us several weeks ago, but clearly Beitar is an excellent team and we will meet them later in the season yet again,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “Beitar is in good form and has good players.
They are a team that plays open soccer so it should be a good game.”
Beitar coach Sharon Mimer was Bachar’s assistant at Beersheba last season before leaving to guide Hapoel Kfar Saba in January. Mimer was sacked by Kfar Saba two months ago, but was hired by Beitar only two weeks later. Jerusalem won its first three league matches under Mimer, its longest winning streak of the season, but suffered a frustrating 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium last week.
“Facing Beersheba is a challenge, but if the players believe in themselves and bring the right energy we can leave with a win,” said Mimer.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin