The Yellow-and-Blue kicked off against Maccabi Petach Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium on Matchday 20 of the WINNER League
Captain Eran Zahavi found his way back on the scoresheet after not finding the goal last match against Acre as the Maccabi superstar picked up a brace in the 3:1 win. Nosa Igiebor scored his second goal in as many games as the midfielders continued to play an important role in the club’s recent success.
Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Peter Bosz looked to keep his perfect record alive as the Dutch boss started Serbian keeper Predrag Rajikovic right behind a defensive quartet of Eitan Tibi, Tal Ben Haim, Carlos Garcia and Omri Ben Harush. Wily veteran Gal Alberman was in his usual holding midfielder position along with Shlomi Azulay and Nigerian Nosa Igiebor by his side. Up front featured an attacking trio of Dor Micha, Tal Ben Chaim and Captain Eran Zahavi.
With former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ran Ben Shimon manning the sidelines for Maccabi Petach Tikva the visitors took the game right to the Yellow-and-Blue from the outset battling for every ball possession tooth and nail. Gidi Kanuk had two brilliant chances but Rajikovic was there to make the stops and keep the match goalless until the 17th minute when the captain broke the deadlock.
Zahavi received a fabulous pass by Micha as number 7 went airborne to drill the ball behind Itamar Nitzan with a half scissors kick to give the hosts a 1:0 advantage. Just five minutes later, the Yellow-and-Blue doubled their lead as Nosa Igiebor scored a terrific curling Golazo from 17 meters out that sent the fans into pandemonium.
However, Petach Tikva may have been down but not out as they were rewarded for their efforts right before the half. In the 44th minute Dor Hugi jumped on a loose ball in the box, beating Rajkovic to cut the lead in half as the whistle sounded sending the clubs into the break.
No substitutions were made by either team as the half opened with both sides trading chances throughout the first 20 minutes. Igiebor found Micha as his 16 meter bullet was blocked by Nitzan for a corner in the 60th minute and Kanuk’s chance the other way was pawed to safety by Rajkovic to keep the lead intact.
With Petach Tikva testing Rajikovic looking for the equalizer, Ben Chaim led Zahavi with an unbelievable pass and the captain went in all alone slotting the ball through Nitzan’s legs for the 3:1 lead in the 66th minute.
Barak Itzhaki was introduced in the 75th minute for Dor Micha joining Eli Dasa who came on earlier in the half for Shlomi Azulay. Petach Tikva still looked to stay in the game as Muhamed Calibat led a couple of breaks for the visitors. But the first attempt was knocked away at the last second by central defender Ben Haim and the second was deflected by Rajikovic over the bar to maintain the advantage.
Maccabi continued to look for a way to pad their lead with Dasa feeding Zahavi a wonderful pass but his effort went over the bar as the Yellow-and-Blue collected the victory and 3-points moving into first place. Next week, Maccabi will visit Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium on Monday February 1st on Matchday 21.