Maccabi Tel Aviv visited Maccabi Haifa at Sammy Ofer Stadium Saturday night on Matchday Five of Ligat Winner and came away with a 2:0 win. Eden Ben Basat’s second half header and Dor Peretz’s first goal of the season gave Maccabi the valuable three-points and put them back in the win column. This evening’s game was the first of two matches that the Yellow-and-Blue will play in Haifa over the next four nights as Maccabi will host Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday Two of the UEFA Champions League Group Stages this Tuesday.
Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic juggled his starting lineup a bit with the absence of suspended veteran central defender Tal Ben Haim playing a back four of Eli Dasa, Carlos Garcia, Eitan Tibi and Avi Rikan as the left back where he played recently for the Israel National Team. Gal Alberman played in his usual holding midfielder position with Nikola Mitrovic, Dor Peretz, Gili Vermouth and Tal Ben Chaim rounding out the rest of the midfield. Captain Eran Zahavi played as the lone striker while Predrag Rajkovic started in goal for Maccabi Tel Aviv against an offensive minded Haifa looking for their first goal of the 2015/16 campaign.
After a quarter hour of both sides feeling each other out, the Greens and Maccabi Tel Aviv traded chances at either end of the pitch with Ofir Kriaff missing on one of his team’s opportunities while Ben Chaim’s prime chance went wildly over the crossbar to end a scoreless first half.
In the second frame Maccabi’s Garcia headed a Zahavi corner kick just shy of the Haifa goal, Ben Chaim’s low shot just went off of the right post after cutting in from a sharp angle and Vermouth half field run saw his chance go off a Haifa player and out. On the other end of the pitch Rajkovic was up the task yet again making a fantastic save off of Alon Turgeman’s close shot, was in the right place to easily pick off Valiente’s header and again was in perfect position to stop another Haifa attack dead in its tracks.
But then it happened. Jokanovic brought on striker Eden Ben Basat in the 81st minute prior to a set piece to complement the earlier introduction of Barak Itzhaki. A perfectly placed long ball by Alberman to left of the Haifa ‘keeper Stoyakovich found a leaping Ben Basat who headed the ball into the goal for a 1:0 lead.
As time wound down, Maccabi cemented the away victory as Dor Peretz would pounce on a Zahavi pass and score his first of the year allowing the Yellow-and-Blue to get back onto the winning track with a 2:0 win over Haifa.
On Tuesday 29/9 at 21:45 Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday Two of the UEFA Champions League right back here at Sammy Ofer Stadium.