Beitar Jerusalem downed Nes Ziona 3-2 in a barnburner of a matchup at Teddy Stadium. The visitors took a shock 1-0 lead on Yoni Stoyanov’s 6th minute marker from the top of the box to take an early advantage, but from that point on it was all yellow-and-black to the delight of their fans. Trazie Thomas knotted the game up thanks to a Yarden Shua ball a quarter hour later while the same Shua then assisted on Ion Nicolaescu’s first goal of the game via header in the 31st minute to take a 2-1 lead.
Just ahead of the halftime break, Nicolaescu slotted home the third goal off a Danilo Asprilla ball to double the advantage while Or Roizman pulled the score to within 3-2 late in the match but it was too little too late as Yossi Abuksis’s team took the 3-points.
“It may have been a fun game to watch, but it was much harder for the coach’s to manage,” Abuksis began. “We don’t want to give up goals but if we are scoring a bunch then we will be fine. We had a wonderful first half as we just didn’t stop going and the fans really cheered us on and pushed us.”
“We began the game really well but after we scored we started going back on our heels and we didn’t press as they controlled the ball,” Nes Ziona interim coach Ami Tiyar explained. “Despite going won 3-1 we were still able to get back into the game but it just wasn’t enough.”
The league’s leading goal scorer Ion Nicolaescu also spoke about the win, “It’s my job to score and that is what I am obligated to do. If I don’t score then I won’t play. If you’re going to tell me that I am the best striker in Israel, then I will most definitely agree.”
Kiryat Shemona stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-1 in the northern capital as rumors continued to swirl about the future of yellow-and-blue head coach Vladen Ivic. The visitors came out flying with multiple chance by Yonatan Cohen early on in the game, but the marksman missed the target which gave Nir Berkovic’s squad life and a chance to take a surprise lead in the 40th minute when Muhammed Shaker beat Daniel Peretz to give the hosts a 1-0 lead ahead of halftime.
However, Maccabi came out of the break with determination to find the equalizer which they did in the 56th minute when Maor Kandil found Djordje Jovanovic right by the goal as he put the ball home to draw even at 1-1. Ivic who has been linked to take over Russian outfit Krasnodar over the last couple of weeks, looked to spur his side on to the win but Eran Zahavi, Dor Peretz and Gaby Kanichowsky came up short as the sides split the points.
“We had a good performance and I can’t criticize the players,” Ivic began. “We missed many chances, but that can happen when the opponent has very quick players that want to find a way to beta you on the counter attack. You need to score to open the game up and finish it off in the correct way. This did damage to our championship hopes as we came with the goal to take 3 points.”
“We’re in last place and we played the best team in the country with the highest budget, so of course I am happy with the result,” Kirayt Shemona head coach Nir Berkovic begam. “This was a big point which will give us a lot of confidence going forward. I always want to win and I told the guys if they came in with a positive attitude we would be able to play with Maccabi and take points.”
Maccabi Haifa blanked Hapoel Beer Sheva 2-0 thanks to a brace by Dean David to remain in first place on the table. David scored his first goal on the Greens first attempt as he nodded home a corner kick while he doubled the score off yet another corner as he stabbed the ball into the back of the goal.
“I have to say that team wasn’t the best on the pitch at least for the first quarter,” a disappointed Greens coach Barak Bachar began. We did not play well and Hapoel Beer Sheva sent us back to school. Beer Sheva put on a clinic in the first half and we raced late. We did not play well at all.”
“The thing I hate to hear about the most is compliments especially after we lost,” Beer Sheva coach Elyaniv Barda said. “This is the first game that we were unable to score. We controlled the match for 70 minutes but the game is all about momentum and we gave up a first half goal on a set piece but we still kept creating chances.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya played to a 1-1 draw as Alen Ozbolt gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first half, but Omri Gendelman found the equalizer for the diamond city squad to split the points.
“Someone told me that every time that we are winning we end up losing the game which is something that is not good,” Reds coach Slobodan Drapic said. “We didn’t lose this match which was one that we could have won and could have lost. We were missing a goal to win and while we had chances we just couldn’t.”
“We could have done more in this game,” Netanya coach Ron Kuzuk began. “Ultimately we went down a goal but I am happy that we were able to comeback. We knew that we would be the team controlling the ball for the most part but with one moment where we were not focused we conceded a goal.”
Hapoel Haifa slipped by Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 to snatch the 3-points and the win at Doha Stadium in the Galilee. Liran Sardel opened the scoring in the 35th minute but Guy Melamed headed home a Taleb Tawhatha ball in the 67th minute to draw the hosts even. But Gal Arel’s 74th minute penalty was the difference maker as the Carmel Reds took the victory and the points.
“Sakhnin tried everything to score a tying goal and had many dangerous chances with so many players in the box,” Haifa coach Roni Levy commented. “I have to say a good word about the guys who were able to comeback to take the win after Sakhnin had drawn even at 1-1. There are some games that you need to suffer in order to win.”
“There are changes that we will have to make,” Sakhnin bench boss Kobi Refuah said. “I don’t like how things are going here and there is a lack of caring about things and having youth players in the squad makes the situation that we are in even more difficult. There is a lot to think about here.”
Ashdod and Hapoel Jerusalem drew 1-1 as Jordan Saban gave the hosts the lead in the 69th minute but Guy Badash scored deep into second half injury time to steal a point at the port city.
“I have no complaints as the players did well and Hapoel Jerusalem stood behind the ball and looked to go on counter attacks,” Ashdod coach Ran Ben Shimon said. “I don’t think they even took a shot on goal until they scored. These things happen in sports, sometimes they work to our advantage and sometimes they do not.”
“We didn’t play well compared to other recent games,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie explained. “Last week we lost points due to the officiating, but in this game we were not good due to Ashdod’s pressure. We tried to stay back and steal a goal and that worked. This is a tough league and any point that we can put in our pocket is a good one.”
Hapoel Hadera and Bnei Reineh played to a 2-2 draw as Hadera found the back of the goal twice deep into second half injury time. Bnei Reineh opened the scoring in the 7th minute on a Shlomi Azulay goal while Hadera lost Philip Ipole to an early red card in the 57th minute. Richard Boateng doubled the Reineh advantage in the 92nd minute but Niv Gutlieb cut the lead two minutes later while Eyal Hen found the equalizer in the 96th minutes to stun the visitors and split the points.
“We saw typical Israeli soccer and I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around the situation but we came out with an important point,” Hadera coach Asaf Nimni said.
“We had a lack of focus and we felt the pressure to win,” Reineh coach Sharon Mimer explained. “We did jot make proper plats and we could have made this game much easier by finishing it off but we lost two important points.”