The Yellow-and-Blue faced Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium and came away with a 2:1 win as Zahavi’s penalty goal and Ben Chaim’s tap in led Maccabi to victory
Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic started the young Serbian keeper Predrag Rajkovic in goal with Yuval Shpungin, Tal Ben Haim, Carlos Garcia and Omri Ben Harush playing in front of him. Gal Alberman, Dor Peretz and Nikola Mitrovic manned the midfield and Tal Ben Chaim was up front along with Eden Ben Basat and captain Eran Zahavi.
The match started off with a bang as Netanya’s Andrii Mishchenko had a quick first chance in the second minute that Rajkovic needed to swat away to the short side of the goal. Just two minutes later, Ben Basat was tripped up in the box that led to Zahavi’s penalty goal beating Barak Levy to go up 1:0 early on in the match.
The Yellow-and-Blue looked to increase their lead, but it was Netanya who controlled the tempo and had a number quality chances in an attempt to find the equalizer. Milan Smiljanic’s 25 meter strike was pushed aside by Rajkovic to the right of his goal and Yuval Avidor’s effort was partially obstructed by Ben Haim to keep the Maccabi lead intact.
In the 39th minute, Maccabi broke through the Netanya defense as Zahavi received the ball deep in Netanya territory that he smartly passed off to Ben Chaim. But the winger’s shot went over the bar to end the threat and send the teams into halftime with Maccabi maintaining a slim 1:0 advantage.
Maccabi went on the attack early and often in the second half with Zahavi’s solo effort from 25 meters out being handily saved by Levy. Ben Basat’s 56th minute strike went wide of the goal and Ben Chaim’s one-on-one chance with Levy hit the close side netting of the goal to go out to safety.
Jokanovic decided to make two substitutions bringing in Yoav Ziv for Ben Harush and Nosa Igiebor for Mitrovic to try and keep the momentum up in attempt to find an insurance marker. And in the 68th minute, lo and behold that’s exactly what happened. Peretz’s intelligent chip pass to a flying Ben Chaim saw the speedy winger outwit the Netanya keeper, maneuvering the ball around Levy and tapping it into the empty goal to double the Maccabi lead.
Dor Micha was introduced in the 74th minute for Ben Chaim and went to work right away with an amazing across the box pass to and oncoming Ziv. But Levy was in the right position to snag the left back’s vicious strike before Netanya pulled one back on a Mishchenko header as the referee blew the final whistle.
The Yellow-and-Blue will return to action in two weeks on November 21st as they visit Hapoel Haifa at Sammy Ofer Stadium for 17:00 kickoff.