Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 1:0 in the Big Derby on a late goal by Carlos Garcia as Rajkovic celebrated his Birthday with a clean sheet.
Maccabi Tel Aviv picked up the important Derby victory over arch rivals Hapoel on Saturday evening playing away at Bloomfield Stadium. The three-points puts the club back into sole possession of first place thanks to Nikola Mitrovic’s corner kick that Carlos Garcia headed into the back of the Reds goal.
Celebrating his 20th birthday, Predrag Rajkovic started his first Derby match in goal for Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic. In front of the Serbian youngster who had family and friends at the game was a defense of Yuval Shpungin and Avi Rikan as the defensive backs while Eitan Tibi and Carlos Garcia were the central defenders. Gal Alberman anchored the midfield with Dor Peretz and Nikola Mitrovic on his sides with an offensive front of Tal Ben Chaim, Gili Vermouth and captain Eran Zahavi.
With both sets of supporters geared up for the big Derby, the Yellow-and-Blue produced more chances in the first half but couldn’t find the back of Tzlil Hatuka’s goal. With the offense centering around Zahavi, Mitrovic and Shpungin both sent number 7 the ball in the box but he was unable to capitalize on the opportunities that also included an individual effort in the 19th minute. Winger Ben Chaim also proved to be dangerous but his chances came up empty as referee Ziv Adler handed out five yellow cards to keep the tempers down with the half finishing scoreless.
After controlling the ball for 62% of the first half Maccabi continued its domination but came up just inches short from breaking the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Zahavi came flying down the right side of the pitch, cut into the box and placed a perfect pass on the feet of Peretz whose shot just went inches wide of the short side of the goal. Zahavi then sent a pinpoint pass to Rikan whose ball went over the crossbar as Maccabi continued to pressure Hapoel Tel Aviv into the dying minutes of the match.
And then in the 86th minute it happened. Mitrovic’s absolutely impeccable comer kick found Carlos Garcia in the box and the central defender made no mistake by heading the ball into the Hapoel goal with authority to give Maccabi the 1:0 Derby win. The Yellow-and-Blue will now begin preparations for their return match with Porto on Matchday Four of the UEFA Champions League this coming Wednesday, November 4th, 21:45 at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.
Slavisa Jokanovic has now guided the Yellow-and-Blue to a Winner League Derby win to go with his Toto Cup Derby victory that he earned back in the summer. The coach spoke about the importance of the match:
“Yes it’s an important derby win and we dominated the whole match scoring the goal at the end of the game. Most importantly we took the three points and that’s good news for us especially winning right before the Champions League match coming up.”
Controlling the match:
“We had most of the control and we had many chances, we pressed and pushed especially near the end of the match and we scored on a set piece. Now it’s history and we have to keep going.”
On the season going forward:
“We are on the top of the table with Beer Sheva and we’ve been playing in the Champions League with a tough schedule and a short squad. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Nothing is done, only in May will the season end and there will be lots of ups and downs throughout the year.”
About Carlos Garcia:
“Carlos Garcia has had some difficulties this season, but he’s a professional footballer and does good and bad things like all of us. But at the end of the Derby by scoring and his performance today was very good. He always concentrated and he found a big present for all of us. Football is for those who work hard.”