Hapoel Haifa took a two goal lead courtesy of goals by Amir Nussbaum and Zarko Korac but a second half brace by Eran Zahavi saw Maccabi Tel Aviv finish level

Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight played out a 2-2 draw against Hapoel Haifa in a home tie that was played at Netanya Stadium due to a two-match home ground ban resulting from crowd disturbances following last month's State Cup tie in Ashdod. Just past the quarter hour mark Haifa took the lead courtesy of a goal off a deflected corner that fell into the path of defender Amir Nussbaum, who fired past the entire Maccabi defence into keeper Juan Pablo's net. After failing to find an equaliser throughout the first half, Maccabi made some tactical changes at the break but the strategy faltered as Haifa got a second just eight minutes after the restart. An error in the back enabled Haifa's Montenegran striker Zarko Korac to get behind the Maccabi defence and strike the ball past Juan Pablo to double his side's advantage. But this only spurred the home fans on and fifteen minutes later the rise in noise level seemed to have worked its magic as Maccabi midfielder Eran Zahavi scored twice in five minutes to bring his side level. Deep into injury time Maccabi striker Rade Prica drew a spectacular save from Haifa's Croatian keeper Tvrtko Kale but the contest ended 2-2, Maccabi's first draw since matchweek 9, ending the club's run of five consecutive league victories.

Remi Mareval

Just three minutes into the match Maccabi winger Tal Ben Haim came close to giving his side an early advantage but his shot was blocked by Tvrtko Kale's outstretched leg. Thirteen minutes later, a corner kick at the other end found an unmarked Amir Nussbaum in front of goal, and the defender struck into the corner of the Maccabi net. From that moment on Maccabi began to press forward and Rade Prica headed wide but the rest of the half passed without incident at either end of the pitch.

The second half was a different story altogether. Inspired by the crowd Maccabi turned up the pressure and began to pose a greater threat to the Haifa defences. But results were first recorded at the other end as Haifa's Zarko Korac exploited an error to get behind the Maccabi defence and the Montenegran sprinted all the way to finish past an onrushing Juan Pablo. The second goal only seemed to inspire the home side and four minutes later Maccabi defender Carlos Garcia drew a block from Kale that midfielder Dan Einbinder shot wide. For Eran Zahavi the boiling point came ten minutes after that as he ended a four-match goal drought by breaking away from two defenders and striking from 60 feet into the lower right-hand corner of the Haifa net. With the deficit reduced to one goal, five minutes later it was Zahavi again latchling on to a low cross from substitute striker Barak Itzhaki and shooting his second into the net to get his side on level terms.

Eran Zahavi

At that point Maccabi head coach Paulo Sousa sensed victory and sent on young winger Dor Micha, who began an attack down the right that ended in a shot from midfielder Mahran Radi that went astray. Defender Remi Mareval and Rade Prica both tried their luck but time and again Kale was at the ready. At the other end, striker Yuval Avidor could have secured victory for his side but his shot from inside the area went wide. Deep into injury time, a Dor Micha cross was met by the head of Rade Prica but his effort, and the 2-2 result, was saved by the Haifa keeper. For Maccabi this was only their third league draw of the season and it ended a run of five consecutive league victories. 

On Tuesday the squad will head off to Switzerland to continue their European campaign before returning, once again to Netanya Stadium, to continue their league duties in an away tie against Hapoel Ra'anana.