RECAP: WEEKEND ISRAELI ACTION
Bryan Gerzicich and first place Hapoel Kiryat Shmona put on an impressive showing in their win over Hapoel Haifa while Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya returned to their winning ways in a thriller against Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Hapoel Haifa 1 – 4 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona
Prior to kickoff, Saturday's game between first place Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and fourth place Hapoel Haifa was expected to be a close game and provide a strong test to the surprising league leaders who were playing on the road in Haifa's Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Instead what happened was a thorough dismantling of Hapoel Haifa by Kiryat Shamona who walked away with a convincing victory.
The win marks their fourth straight triumph and the club has yet to lose on the season.
American Bryan Gerzicich once again went a full 90 for Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and the Los Angeles born central midfielder has been on the field every minute for his club this season.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Wiyam Amashe took advantage of a poor clearance from Oshri Ro'ash.
Amashe collected the ball in the center of the field about 20 yards out, moved into the box then sent a shot into the lower left corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season giving the visitors a one goal lead.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona was not finished scoring in the opening half. In the 37th minute, Njobo capitalized off a fantastic individual effort when he collected the ball about 30 yards from goal burst down the left side past three Hapoel Haifa defenders and chipped into the far corner of the net past Haifa's Croatian keeper Tvrtko Kale.
Njobo's goal would give Hapoel Kiryat Shmona a two goal lead at the halftime break.
Kiryat Shmona would continue to dominate at the start of the second half but it was the hosts who would pull one back in the 75th minute on a goal from Nikola Grubješić who was playing in his first game for Hapoel Haifal.
On the play, Saša Stojanović sent a high looping pass into the box which Eyal Tartazky was able to head down for Grubješić who sent it into the goal past Kiryat Shmona keeper Guy Haimov from close range to halve the margin.
All thoughts of a Hapoel Haifa comeback were dashed in the 81st minute when Wiyam Amashe scored his second of the game and league leading seventh of the season to push it back to a two goal advantage.
On the play Amashe would collect a long ball out of the back and beat his defender to the ball setting him up all alone against the keeper.
Kale was no match for Amashe who sent a chip in off the right post and into the net once again giving Kiryat Shmona a two goal lead.
Just four minutes later in the 85th minute, Kiryat Shmona would turn the game into a rout when Njobo took the ball down the right side and moved into the box on the side.
He sent in a low pass for Adi Elisha who attempted to shoot without a touch. Elisha would completely miss the ball which instead found its way to his teammate Ori Shitrit on the top of the box.
Shitrit would calmly take the ball and fire a low shot into the left corner of the net for the final goal in a lopsided victory.
The victory now gives Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 16 points out of a possible 18 on the season. They also have a league leading 16 goals on the year with a differential of plus 10.
With the loss, Hapoel Haifa has fallen to seventh place with nine points on the year. Next week they will travel down the coast to take on Maccabi Netanya.
League leaders Hapoel Kiryat Shmona will return home to the northernmost city in Israel where they will host Hapoel Ashkelon next weekend.
Hapoel Ramat Gan 0 - 1 Maccabi Netanya
A week after suffering their first defeat of the season, Maccabi Netayna were able to get back to their winning ways in dramatic fashion on the road against a struggling Hapoel Ramat Gan at Winter Stadium.
American central defender Leo Krupnik once again started and went a full 90 minutes for Maccabi Netayna.
Maccabi Netanya controlled the flow of the game from the opening kickoff and created most of the opportunities in the game.
Maccbi Netanya's best chance of the first half came in the 24th minute when Achmad Saba'a would send a close shot off the right post.
The game would open up in the second half with both teams coming close to scoring on a number of occasions.
In the 89th minute, Maccabi Netanya forward Dela Yampolsky took the ball on the right side and was fouled violently just outside box by Tamir For who was shown a red card.
Maccabi Netanya was able to take advantage of the shorthanded Hapoel Ramat Gan late in injury time when they scored on one of the final plays of the game.
Georgian forward Gaga Chkhetiani collected the ball on the left side and sent in a perfect cross that Saba'a would outmaneuver his defender and head into the back of the net to give Maccabi Netanya a valuable three points.
The win for Maccabi Netanya was marred by the bad news that starting midfielder Ofir Amram broke his ankle and could miss up to five months.
The loss for Hapoel Ramat Gan leaves the club with just one point on the season.
They were penalized four points at the start of the season because of problems with their finances. Their situation only gets more difficult next weekend when they travel to take on perennial powers Maccabi Tel Aviv.
For Maccabi Netanya, the win lifts them into fourth place with eleven points on six games. They return home next weekend to take on Hapoel Haifa at Sar-Tov Stadium.
It is expected that Ryan Adeleye and Hapoel Be'er Sheva FC will be awarded a 3-0 victory by league officials after crowd violence prevented the conclusion of their game against FC Ashdod. With the game level at 3-3 in the second half, linesman Oren Bornstein was struck by an object thrown by the crowd and could no longer even stand up. The game was called off and the hosts FC Ashdod will likely be forced to forfeit the result to the visitors Hapoel Be'er Sheva.