Maccabi Tel Aviv & Hapoel Beer Sheva pick up where they left off last season as they had a barnburner of a match! Hapoel Tel Aviv wins at home as Beitar escapes with a draw in Akko! Maccabi Haifa welcomed Yossi Benayoun back to the Ligat ha’Al with a win & more!
CRAZY! That’s the only way to describe the match I witnessed first hand sitting with the Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters with my eldest son, Dov last night. Usually in the press box, I decided to venture into the away stands for the game and feel the pulse of the Maccabi supporters up close & personal.
The game started off in shocking fashion as Roie Gordana fed a marvelous through ball to Elyaniv Barda that the veteran striker slotted home perfectly to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. The horror began to set in over the Maccabi faithful but they quickly regained their momentum both in the stands and on the pitch as a certain goal by Maccabi was ruled to be offside by the embattled referee Ziv Adler despite protests by the Tel Aviv players.
The Blue & Yellow crowd by now was worked up into a frenzy as anti-ref chants were heard through the 3000K strong away supporters who traveled to the match. For most of the 1st half Maccabi continued to apply tons of pressure but couldn’t find the back of the goal leaving those same people shaking their heads in disbelief. As the middle aged man standing next to me said at half time, “here, Maccabi plays their best half of the season so far and has nothing to show for it!”
Maccabi looked determined to find the tying goal early in the second half and did just that as Eran Zahavi was questionably awarded a questionable penalty after being taken down in the box. Though he slipped while taking the shot from the spot he still was able to put it into the right side of the goal to help Maccabi draw even at one a piece.
As Maccabi continued to pour on the pressure one could feel the supporters getting more and more restless as the minutes ticked down. “Why hasn’t Pako made a sub?” said one as another lamented on the insecurity of Juan Pablo Colinas the Maccabi ‘keeper.
Nails continued to be chewed as coach Ayestaran pulled off a slow & sluggish Eden Ben Bassat in favor of youngster Ben Reichert who injected immediate speed into the lineup. However, as we all waited for another substitute to be made by Ayestaran, Elyaniv Barda scored his 2nd of the match sending the Beer Sheva faithful into absolute delirium and setting back Maccabi yet again by a goal.
But hold on! Maccabi races down field as Dor Micha’s shot is blocked by the sprawling Beer Sheva ‘keeper Agedia and knocked directly to the oncoming Tal Ben Chaim who slams the ball home to make it 2-2. The exact opposite reactions that were felt 30 seconds earlier were now crossing the pitch as both sets of supporters and teams were perhaps close to pulling their hair out of their heads!
We hit the 88th minute and Maccabi coach Pako decides to go for the gold and takes off his central midfielder in Carlos Garcia who up that point had not been having one of his better matches and inserts striker Barak Badash. Pako gives up some defense to try and win the match. And then it happened.
Dovev Gabay the Beer Sheva striker runs down the right flank and sends in a pin point pass that Elyaniv Barda gets his head on and lofts it into the goal for the home side’s 3rd goal and his first hat trick in many, many years! Gal Alberman attempted to get his head onto the ball 1st and shoo it away but was out maneouvered by the aforementioned Barda who celebrated into the night.
The scenes shifted once again in the stands leaving people with blank stares in utter, utter shock. No one knew what had just hit them. As the Maccabi supporters headed for the exits I talked with one fan who said, “Wassermil is a terrible stadium. Not only to watch a match but also for Maccabi. It’s a good thing there will be a new stadium next year.” To that I said, Amen.
Maccabi Haifa 3-1 Hapoel Petach Tikva
Maccabi Haifa heated up after a shocking error by Dekel Keinan that gave the visitors a surprise 1-0 lead on a goal by Hasan Abu Ziad by scoring 3 unanswered goals of their own in front of over 25K supporters in Haifa. Hen Ezra, Alon Turgeman on a terrific passing play & Weam Amasha scored for Haifa to win in Yossi Benayoun’s debut back in Green.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 Hapoel Haifa
The Reds took full advantage of playing in front of their home crowd and demolished an overmatched Haifa side 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium. Gili Vermut starred for Tel Aviv scoring a goal & assisting on Shoval Gozlan’s first goal in a red uniform since coming over from Maccabi Haifa in the offseason. Lucas “Sasha” Pacheco scored the third goal for HTA as Dani Amos was able to keep a clean sheet near the end of the match by making a big save off a Steven Cohen chance.
Hapoel Akko 1-1 Beitar Jerusalem
The visiting yellow and black Beitar Jerusalem came out strong as Eli Dasa scored after just 8 minutes as he picked the pocket of the Akko defender and slotted home the ball low to the left side of the keeper. But the second half saw a fine showing by Akko as they continued attack after attack as they finally drew even off a beauty of a free kick that Hamdi Salihi headed into the far corner. Akko continued to apply pressure to a tiring Beitar and looked to have scored the go ahead goal but was incorrectly ruled offside by the referee and gifted a point to the visitors.
Maccabi Netanya 1-2 Kiryat Shemona
Netanya took a quick 1-0 lead by the 5th minute as Eran Levy placed a perfect corner kick to Omer Tchalisher who headed it home to the close side of the goal. But the visiting Kiryat Shemona club drew even off a Netanya error as David Manga gave Ofir Mizrachi a perfect ball to score on. David Manga again was the central figure as he placed a perfect corner that Kassio Fernandes was able to head in and score the winning goal on leaving the home side shaking their heads in disgust.
Ashdod 2-2 Bnei Sakhnin
Ashdod took a 2-0 lead on goals by Niv Zrihan & Morad Abu Anze but Bnei Sakhnin didn’t go down easily. The visiting side picked up two goals in the span of five minutes with Greece native Ioannis Papadopoulos scoring his 2nd goal of the season and Muhamed Ghadir picking up the tying score as the sides split the points. Ashdod owner Jackie Ben Zaken did not charge the close to 5000 fans that came to the Ashdod stadium as tickets were given away free and will be for a number of matches this season.
Maccabi Petach Tikva 3-2 Hapoel Raanana
Petach Tikva manager Ran Ben Shimon had to coach his club from the stands this match due to a suspension but it didn’t seem to matter as his home side picked up 3 points against a tough opponent in Raanana. Maccabi scored the first 3 goals of the game with a Guy Melamed header to start things off, a Moshiko Lugassi goal coming in as a substitute in the 2nd half and Bulgarian striker Kostadin Huzurov scoring the third. However, Haim Silvas’s club did not go down easy getting goals by Anthony Nwakaeme & a Mamadou Thiam penalty, but it was not enough as the home team picked up all three points.