Ashdod stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-2 with a late goal by Sagiv Yehezkel by the port city to take the points ahead of the yellow-and-blue’s decisive Europa League match on Thursday against Sivasspor for a ticket to the competition’s Round of 32.
Fahad Bayo opened the scoring for the hosts in the 20th minute when he took advantage of a poor backpass by Dan Bitton to give Ashdod the lead. Luis Hernandez headed home the equalizer off a Bitton cross in the 53rd minute while less than ten minutes later Yonatan Cohen pounced on a ball in the box to give Georgios Donis’s squad a 2-1 advantage. However, in the 69th minute Shlomi Azulay launched a 14 meter scorcher that beat keeper Daniel Tenenbaum to tie the game up and ten minutes later Sagiv Yehezkel worked his way into the Maccabi box to score the winner.
“We played average soccer today but with a huge heart,” said Ashdod’s coach Ran Ben Shimon. “We are a much better club than how we played but to be able to win this game is really something else.”
Maccabi coach Donis was less than thrilled with his team’s performance, “This was a tough day for us and for us to lose a game like this means we’ve taken a huge step backwards. Sometimes there are no words, it’s soccer. In a game like this we had to control the lace of play throughout.”
Hapoel Beer Sheva slipped by Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 at Teddy Stadium thanks to a second half brace by embattled star Josue who had been suspended by the team a couple of weeks earlier. Yarden Shua got the yellow-and-black on the board with his first goal as a member of Beitar by heading home an Oran Bitton cross in they 17th minute. Beer Sheva drew even on a controversial penalty by Josue in the 65th minute after Or Dadia went down in the box due to minimal contact while the Portuguese striker completed the comeback on a 16 meter marker five minutes later to hand the points to Yossi Abuksis’s squad.
“Josue is learning,” said Abuksis following the win. “He understands that his love for the game is above all. After being out for two games as a punishment he would rather pay $100,000 to play than to sit on the side again. All in all we played a good second half but we have to know that we need to play tougher defense as well.”
Beitar’s Coach Shay Barda looked back at the game, “We wanted to win and the players were focussed as we played a good first half. But I don’t know what happened with they penalty and that is up to the referee. I believe that you all saw what happened there and I don’t think that if there was a crowd of 35,000 people here it would have been as easy to call that penalty.”
Maccabi Haifa squashed Kiryat Shmona 3-0 thanks to three late second half goals to take the victory. After a goalless first half, Dolev Haziza was pulled down in the box in the 74th minute and converted the spot kick for a 1-0 lead. Just four minutes later Tjaron Chery’s cross went off of Idan Nachmias and being Kiryat Shmona keeper Dzigius Bartkus to double the Green’s advantage while Nikita Rukavytsya finished off a Chery through ball in the 85th minute to take the win.
“It’s my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and I promised her that we would win,” said Haifa coach Barak Bachar. “This was a tough game against the only team that hadn’t lost yet this season. But we continued with how we played last game and took the 3-points.”
Dolev Haziza who scored the first goal via penalty also reflected on the game, “I knew I was going to score no matter what. This was a big win and that’s what is most important in my mind. I was a bit nervous at the start of the season with a new coach but he’s had faith and belief in me.”
“I don’t want to complain about the referees yet again but this was over the edge and I’m upset,” said a disgruntled Kiyat Shemona coach Kobi Refuah. “Maccabi Haifa is a good enough team without the help of the whistle here or there, but we will just have to keep working.”
Bnei Sakhnin blanked Hapoel Haifa 2-0 as Ben Vahaba was shown a straight red card for a reckless foul on Beram Kayal paving the way to a pair of goals by Osama Khalaila and Moti Barshatzky to give Niso Avitan’s side the 3-points.
“We were able to take the 3 points despite getting off to a rough start,” said Avitan. “As time went by we started to play better and we were able to stand up to Hapoel Haifa who are a very string team.”
Haifa coach Haim Silvas couldn’t hide his disappointment, “We had to be better in the first 25 minutes or so and score. Up until the red card we played well and then things started going backwards. After we gave up the first goal we knew it would be tough to come back and then we conceded a second.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva scored a dramatic 92nd goal to take a 1-0 win and the 3-points against 10-man Bnei Yehuda. Shay Mazur received a red card in the 50th minute for a flagrant elbow to Arad Bar giving Guy Luzon’s squad an extra man but it took until injury time for hosts to take advantage of the situation when Tai Baribo scored in the box to secure the victory.
“We played against a team that knows how to play defense very well,’ said a satisfied Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon. “We knew that we needed to have patience and I am happy that we were able to eventually score to take the win. I have to give credit to the players, we come to win and we kept a clean sheet yet again.”
The goal scorer Tai Baribo was all smiles following the winner, “Every striker wants to score a winning goal but the most important thing for us was to win. I will always do my best for the club and I hope that we will remain isn first place for as long as possible.”
Hapoel Hadera and Hapoel Kfar Saba played to a 1-1 draw with both goals coming on penalties. Odah Marshalls scored his spot kick just ahead of the halftime break however a red card to Dia Lababidi in the 59th minute led to Luwagga Kizito’s penalty as the sides split the points.
“We really wanted to win and we took the lead, but out of nowheres we were handed a red card,” lamented Hadera coach Sharon Mimer. “I have to give credit to the players for being able to withstand the Kfar Saba attack as they had a numerical advantage.”
Kfar Saba coach Amir Turgeman also spoke about the draw, “ The penalty called against us was questionable, but with an extra man in the second half we really tried to win the game. But we weren’t calm, cool and collected to finish despite creating a few chances.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya played to a goalless draw at Bloomfield Stadium.
“We didn’t score and we had plenty of chances,” said Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld. “As a coach I am happy that we created chances but we needed to win the game. We had a lot of youngsters who played tough and that is the energy we need as the players are learning day to day.”
Tel Aviv coach Nir Klinger also summed up the clash, “I don’t want to sound like a broken record but we know what the situation is that we are in. We knew that there would be challenges with a very limited budget but we will do the best that we can.”