Beitar Jerusalem 1-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Beitar Jerusalem played a home game in Haifa, fortunately their new favorite stadium as they defeated table leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0. The Jerusalem side playing yet another radius match away from their home stadium of Teddy made the trek up north where they have had much success this year. Having drawn with Maccabi Tel Aviv, defeating both Maccabi & Hapoel Haifa Sammy Ofer Stadium has been a home away from home for the yellow-and-black.
Beitar matched up toe-to-toe with Tel Aviv wearing their white third strip and took the match hard to the two time champions challenging for every ball and making an extra effort on every play. Romanian Liviu Antal flew up and down the left side of the pitch causing havoc for the Maccabi defenders while Omer Atzili the eventual goalscorer was active in the middle of the pitch.
Antal provided countless chances for Beitar and finally cashed in when his perfect cross to Yitzik Cohen was not properly handled by Tel Aviv ‘keeper Juan Pablo and Cohen was able to move the ball in place for Atzili to unload a powerful blast and give his side a 1-0 lead.
With Pako Ayestaran the Maccabi coach making tactical changes in the second half his charges were unable to find the lightning in the bottle to muster up a draw or perhaps steal 3-points. Time after time the yellow-and-blue stars couldn’t find the opening for, the tight Beitar defense which stymied the likes of Eran Zahavi and Dor Micha.
Eli Tabib, whose life was threatened just last week saw his team play with the spirit and cause that almost assuredly propelled Beitar to the upper playoffs in quite some time. Not only will they be able to take in substantial gates from the upcoming matches they will also be able to challenge for a coveted Europa League spot should they finish between 2nd & 4th place.
With over 17k supporters making the long trip to Haifa everyone associated with Beitar came away with a big W. There are still 2 more radius matches for Beitar and depending on who they draw in the first two home games that will determine where they will play them. Against a large club you can count on a few a more trips up north to Haifa. For smaller clubs it may be the Moshava in Petah Tikva, Netanya or perhaps Bloomfield in Tel Aviv. The question now is that they’ve all but sewn up an upper playoff position what will they do with it?
Kiryat Shemona 0-1 Maccabi Haifa
The captain is back & better than ever! Yossi Benayoun has now won his team’s matches for 2 straight weeks scoring the deciding goals nearing the end of each game! This time Benayoun floated a ball that beat Kiryat Shemona ‘keeper Guy Haimov in the 88th minute to keep the Greens chances for a berth in the upper playoffs alive. For Kiryat Shemona Barak Bachar has been unable to find the correct medicine and goals for his club as they may find themselves 7 points out of 1st place should Maccabi Tel Aviv defeat Beitar Jerusalem on Monday night. The win created a quagmire for the final upper playoff position with Haifa, Beitar, Raanana & Maccabi Petach Tikva all vying for that final spot.
Ashdod came into Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv looking to pick up a much needed win for embattled coach Nir Klinger. They actually started out on the right foot with Tom Mond giving the port city club a 1-0 lead however an own goal at the stroke of halftime by Ya Ya Peti knotted up the match at 1 a piece.
The second half saw some good runs by both teams, but it was Dudu Biton of Hapoel Tel Aviv getting the best chances. The January transfer striker show the ball off of the Ashdod crossbar and headed the ball off of the right post, but Biton couldn’t put the ball into the opposition goal! Reds keeper Apoula Edel awkwardly twisted his leg & ankle which resulted in him tearing his achilles tendon and will be out for the year. That resulted in his being taken out of the match, however with no more substitutes available coach Eli Cohen turned to defender Sari Falah to take over in goal for the final 10+ minutes with the score still tied.
But that’s when the real fun for Hapoel began. Sagiv Yehezkel out the ball past Ashdod shot stopper and Israel National team goalie Ofir Marchiano and then Dudu Biton finally scored his first goal in a Hapoel uniform to seal the win as time expired to send Ashdod to yet another loss.
There were reports that Raanana coach Haim Silvas was about to have his contract extended as the club was on the cusp of making it into the upper playoffs. However, with a 2-0 defeat in Sakhnin the door has been opened for Maccabi Haifa who have struggled all year to somehow move into a ties for the final upper playoff spot. The only problem with that is they need to defeat Kiryat Shemona in the northern capital to do that. Mohammad Ghadir & Feras Magharbeh provided the offense for Eli Cohen shutting out Raanana.
Elisha Levy can’t be happy with a draw in Haifa as his 3rd place side could lose another two points on table leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv and effectively over themselves out of the title picture. Ma’aran Lala opened the scoring as his goal held up until late in the match when Dovev Gababy beat Haifa keeper Kovar Premsyl with an excellent individual effort. Beer Sheva has had issues of late even after winning at home last week against Kiryat Shemona had it not been for captain Elyaniv Barda ‘s clutch brace.
Adi Gotlieb gave Akko a shock 1-0 lead against Roni Levy’s side, but Netanya was able to earn a draw on an Eran Levy penalty goal later on in the first half. Both teams will be in the lower playoffs with Akko trying to find some magic to avoid relegation.
A dry Petach Tikva derby was on tap at the Moshava stadium as the clubs split the points. Maccabi moved closer to clinching an upper playoff berth while Hapoel is still fighting for their relegation life under new coach Menachem Koretzky.