Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted Beitar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium and came up on the short end of a 4:2 scoreline as Rukavytsya would score a hat-trick to cancel out Zahavi’s brace.
Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic had to put some thought into tonight’s starting lineup with three matches in six days as he went with Serbian youngster Predrag Rajkovic in goal and a back four of Avi Rikan, Oz Raly, Carlos Garcia and Eitan Tibi. The midfield featured grizzly veteran Gal Alberman, Dor Peretz and Nikola Mitrovic with a trio up front of Gili Vermouth, Barak Itzhaki and Captain Eran Zahavi.
The first half would be the Eran Zahavi and Nikita Rukavytsya show as both strikers would put on a clinic in the opening 45 minutes with a brace a piece and chances galore. Beitar would strike first with a fine goal by Rukavytsya in the 18th minute as the Australian striker broke through the Maccabi defense at midfield to go on a clear breakaway and put the ball past Rajkovic for a 1:0 lead.
However, Zahavi made sure to pull Maccabi even in the 32nd minute by heading in Gili Vermouth’s gorgeous ball while both were in the box to knot the score up at one-a-piece. Vermouth’s individual effort against the Beitar defense was second to none as the midfielder was able to deke out his defender to get the ball to an awaiting Zahavi. Number 7 would then help Maccabi take a 2:1 lead as he would bury Itzhaki’s header assist for the short lived lead.
Just at the stroke of halftime, Beitar would tie the game up on Rukavytsya’s second goal of the night as he would pick out the bottom right hand corner of the goal to send the clubs into the lockerrooms back to square one with forty-five minutes of play to go.
But the evening would belong to Rukavytsya and Beitar with the long-sleeved striker scoring his third of the match for a hat-trick in the 58th minute and would give the visitors a lead that they would not would not relinquish. Lidor Cohen tacked on an insurance goal for the Yellow-and-Black in the 65th minute forcing Maccabi to empty their bench. Jokanovic would send on Dor Micha and Shlomi Azulay for Garcia and Raly to join Ben Basat who had come on at halftime for Itzhaki but the substitutions wouldn’t help Maccabi on this night as they would fall to Beitar after three league victories in a row.