Zahavi stars for the Yellow-and-Blue against Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium coming away with a tidy 2:0 victory on Matchday Fourteen
Maccabi Tel Aviv visited Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium to open up the second round of WINNER League matches and came away with a 2:0 victory on a brace by the captain, Eran Zahavi. A first half goal and a second half strike sandwiched a missed penalty at the stroke of halftime by number 7 as the Yellow-and-Blue won their Matchday Fourteen encounter. Next Monday night, December 21st at 20:55, Hapoel Beer Sheva will visit Bloomfield Stadium in an attractive 1-2 matchup.
Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic went with a 4-3-3 formation in front of starting keeper Predrag Rajkovic as Eli Dasa and Omri Ben Harush were the right and left backs respectively while Tal Ben Haim and Carlos Garcia played as central defenders. Gal Alberman, Shlomi Azulay and Nosa Igiebor played right behind an attacking trio of Avi Rikan, Barak Itzhaki and captain Eran Zahavi.
Bnei Sakhnin seemed to be the more dangerous of the two sides in the first ten minutes as the hosts had a pair of corner kicks and an excellent close range chance by Jorginho that was smartly cleared by defender Ben Haim. In the 12th minute Rikan’s 16 meter screamer of effort from the left side just went by the near post to keep the match goalless for the time being. However, just one minute later Zahavi would change all of that.
Dasa lifted a nice ball into the box from the right side that Zahavi headed into the left post that didn’t find the back of the goal. But number 7 followed up on his own rebound and pounded it home for the 1:0 advantage. As the match headed into the 22nd minute, Jokanovic was forced to use his first substitution as he replaced an injured Azulay with Dor Peretz.
With the first half winding down Bnei Sakhnin began to threaten the Maccabi goal but Rajkovic was in the right place at the right time on a pair of opportunities. In the 38th minute, Jorginho’s header from a perfect lead pass by Firas Mugrabi was saved by the Serbian keeper while Weam Amasha’s chance from inside the box was instinctively pawed away by Rajkovic to keep the lead intact. Just before the sides headed to the break, Zahavi was awarded a penalty when Itzhaki was pushed down in the box, but his ensuing kick from 11 meters went off of the right post and out as the halftime whistle was blown.
With the missed penalty still on his mind, Zahavi made amends very quickly with a 55th minute strike from the top of the box that beat Sakhnin keeper Kadosh to double the Maccabi lead. The hosts didn’t raise the white flag yet and in the 61st minute Mugrabi sent a wonderful pass to Sakhnin’s Shlomi Azulay whose headed ball just bounced off of Rajkovic’s left post and out of bounds.
The visitors searched long and hard for a third goal as the final half hour ticked down but Peretz’s goal was ruled offside, Itzhaki’s free kick went over the bar and Ben Chaim’s effort was sent out of play by Kadosh as the match ended 2:0 in favor of the Yellow-and-Blue.
Next Monday December 21st, Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Hapoel Beer Sheva at Bloomfield Stadium on Matchday Fifteen pitting the two top teams in the league against one another separated only by goal differential. Check the official Maccabi Tel Aviv website and download the official club App to keep up to date on all of the latest news and views about your favorite team.