Maccabi & Haifa, Beitar Jerusalem & Hapoel Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva & Sakhnin All Draw as Israel Football Returns

The Israel soccer league got back to business over the weekend with four games on Saturday night including the much anticipated Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem clash that ended in a sparkling 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Stadium.

The Reds found the back of the goal first with an Ori Magbo handball penalty in the 45th minute as Omri Altman converted the spot kick just ahead of the break for a 1–0 Hapoel lead. However, the visitors came storming back as Michael Ohana scored his first goal in three years and after two major surgeries thanks to a Yarden Shua assist to split the points.

“We definitely have improved over the coronavirus break and we were much better tactically,” explained a satisfied Reds coach Nir Klinger. “I believe that if we hadn’t given up a goal when we did we would have scored our second of the game. We had plenty of chances to win it but we just didn’t do enough.”

Beitar’s new coach Slobodan Drapic reflected on the draw, “We still need to get some playing time in and you could see that we still aren’t in total game shape. We prepared well and there were moments that I was really happy with. All in all it was a decent performance.”

Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv played to a 2-2 draw at Sammmy Ofer Stadium. The Greens grabbed a quick first half 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Tjaron Chery and Nikita Rukavytsya as they both beat the Yellow & Blue defense to score in the 7th and 8th minutes. However, Eduardo Guerrero beat Omri Glazer thanks to an Eyal Golasa assist to pull back a goal before the break while Yonatan Cohen scored off a Maor Kandil cross in the 70th minute to split the points.

“The game began as to how we wanted it to,” explained Haifa coach Barak Bachar. “We pressed and we tried to get more goals. But when we gave up the first goal we didn’t have the momentum and our pace dropped.”

Maccabi coach Giorgos Donis also reflected back on the game, “I take responsibility for the system that we started the game with and the first minutes were a disaster. But we changed it up and because the players couldn’t adapt. In games like this if you don’t play with passion and responsibility who have no chance to do anything but after a half hour we were much better.”

Maccabi Netanya overwhelmed Hapoel Kfar Saba 3-0 at the Netanya Stadium in the diamond city. Hen Ezra got things rolling for the hosts in the 3rd minute with a scintillating strike into the far corner while Yunas Malade doubled the advantage by heading home a corner in the 37th minute. Omri Gendelman added the third goal of the first half after he nodded in a Gaby Kanichowsky ball to wrap up the three points before the break.

“We finished off the game in the first half,” said a content Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld. “Naturally our pace slowed in the second half but we didn’t give up a goal in this game or our last which was over a month ago and I’m very happy about that.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva defeated Hapoel Haifa 2-0 despite only playing with 10 men for close to an hour of the match at the Moshava Stadium. Youngster Liel Abada sent Tai Baribo a 19th minute cross that the latter converted for a 1-0 lead but a quarter hour later an Elvis Sakyi reckless foul saw him sent off with a straight red card leaving the hosts down a man for the balance of the contest. However, that didn’t bother Guy Luzon’s side as Or Inbrun scored after a scrum in the box on the 38th minute to hand Petah Tikva the 3-points and the win.

“This was an exceptional victory,” exclaimed Luzon. “We were dominant and we controlled the pace of play. I very much enjoyed what I saw. We are a very young squad that are very really hungry to win.”

The Carmel Reds coach Haim Silvas was distraught following the clash, “I am very, very disappointed from this game. We gave up an early goal and that killed our confidence. We were a man to the good and we couldn’t even take advantage of the situation.”

Kiryat Shemona and Hapoel Hadera played to a 1-1 draw in the northern capital. Late substitute Guy Ben Lulu found the back of the goal for then hosts cancelling out Maxim Plakuschenko’s magnificent strike as each side took a point.

“We played well at times but it wasn’t enough,” said Kiryat Shemona coach Kobi Refuah. “We didn’t create enough chances and I don’t want to use the break as an excuse.”

Hadera coach Sharon Mimer also weighed in on the result, “Giving up a late goal is very disappointing and we knew that we may pay a price due to not preparing properly as we physically were unable to keep the lead.”

Bnei Yehuda slipped by Ashdod 1-0 on an Amit Zenati penalty in the 79th minute to take the 3-points at Bloomfield Stadium.

“The players worked hard on the pitch,” said Bnei Yehuda’s new coach Nir Berkovic. “I told them if they played responsibly then they would get a good result. I’m very excited about the win and if I wast then I wouldn’t be in this profession.”

Ashdod bench boss Ran Ben Shimon also spoke about the game, “After not having played on over a month I knew that we would tire. But we also need to know how to win these types of games. We didn’t pay close attention to the small details and we paid the price for that.”

Hapoel Beer Sheva and Bnei Sakhnin played to an entertaining 2-2 draw as Anthony Varenne sacored his second goal of the game deep into stoppage time to split the points. Varenne opened the scoring when he beat keeper Rami Hamada in the 15th minute but Moti Barshatzky and Osama Khalaila teamed up on a pair of goals as each scored and an assisted on each others strikes to take a 2-1 lead at the break. However, Josue sent Jonathan Agudelo the ball who nodded it to Varrene who put it home for the equalizer.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Beer Sheva coach Yossi Abuksis. “Our defense was awful in the first half and we gave up two goals from nothing on bad mistakes.”

Niso Avitan, Sakhnin’s coach also didn’t die his disappointment, “Of course I’m upset but we were tired by the end of the game after not having played in a long time.”

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