Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
CRAZY! That’s the only word to describe the derby match up between Maccabi & Hapoel Tel Aviv last night at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv! Cliches just won’t cut it to describe what we saw on the pitch. We had a red card, a hat trick, a brace, two penalties, questionable calls by the referee and coaching moves that will be scrutinized for possibly years to come.
Boris Kleiman starting for Dani Amos in the Hapoel goal gave up a brutal dribbler to Eran Zahavi in the 33rd minute that went right through his hands. And then the fun began. Rada Prica, Maccabi’s Swedish striker picked up a foolish red card by pushing down a Hapoel player to give the Reds a man advantage.
Prica had not done much in the match as Maccabi’s offense ran down the flanks and not the middle with the wing players getting the majority of play. But losing the striker was a big hit to Paulo Sousa’s game plan as he would have to alter the way he has thought the match would play out.
With the extra man to the good, Omer Damari did what he has done all year which is score to tie up the match at one a piece going into halftime. Hapoel came out of the lockerroom in good form and controlled most of the 2nd half not allowing Maccabi ball control as the yellow and blue only held the ball for 40% of the game.
Barack Badash, the Israeli Zlatan, entered the game at minute 53 to try and jump start Maccabi’s offense but he would only really surface during the last play of the match. Hapoel continued to pressure Maccabi and attempted in vain to break through the yellow and blue defense.
But that would all change when Gili Vermut was pulled down or made sure to go down in the Maccbi box in the 87th minute which led to an Omer Damari penalty kick and brace that seemed to secure the first Hapoel Derby win in five matches.
But it was not to be. Maccabi coach Paulo Sousa quickly inserted Tal Ben Haim who immediately paid dividends for his boss, speeding down the left side, entering the box and getting pulled down for an 88th minute penalty and tying goal by Noen other than Eran Zahavi!
It seemed both clubs would end the game in a 2-2 draw, split the points and send the supporters from both sides home happy. But no.
A quick Hapoel turnover sent Barack Badash into the middle of the field where he slid the ball to a racing Zahavi who placed the sphere into the onion bag and sent the Maccabi supporters into absolute delirium, and the Hapoel fans into utter shock, jaws dropped not knowing what had just hit them.
Zahavi hat trick takes out Omer Damari and his brace. Maccabi showed the heart of a champion and moved seven points clear of Hapoel Beer Sheva and pretty much wrapped up the league title as we head into the upper playoffs which begin next week.
Take a guess who Maccabi will be playing.