Football Israel Round 15 Ligat Ha’Al

Maccabi Tel Aviv wins again and opens a bigger lead up on 2nd place Hapoel Beer Sheva who remains idle until they play Monday night at Bloomfield against struggling Hapoel Tel Aviv. Meanwhile Bnei Sakhnin wins once again and pulls even closer to the top of the table!

Bnei Yehuda 0-2 Maccabi Tel Aviv

Another game, another win for Maccabi Tel Aviv. One can scratch their head at Paulo Sousa’s 46th minute substitution of Mahran Radi for penalty goal scorer Eran Zahavi. We can wonder why Sheran Yeini comes in for Barack Yitzhaki and we can debate until the cows come home the reasoning behind Sousa’s starting lineup game in and game out. However, one can’t argue that all that the manager does is win.

Eran Zahavi with the BANG!

Eran Zahavi with the BANG!

Maccabi took most of the first half to finally find a way to break through Bnei Yehuda’s 8-1-1 formation but a handball in the box after a free kick just outside of it allowed Zahavi to celebrate his BANG, BANG celebration.

It was questionable if Maccabi ‘keeper Juan Pablo needed to be in goal during the first 45 minutes because Bnei Yehuda never crossed the midfield stripe, or at least it seemed to be the case that they didn’t at least. I guess a sofa could have also down the job.

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

But when the second half began it was as if two different clubs hit the pitch. Zahavi was subbed out at the half giving way to Maharan Radi and Bnei Yehuda began getting chance after chance, pressuring Maccabi with wave upon wave of offense. But after a few close Bnei Yehuda misses Maccabi started to take back control of the match and added a goal on a Rada Prica wicked strike to pretty much sew up the victory.

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv website

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv website

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

It was a sad scene amongst the orange and black fans watching them sulk into their stadium seats knowing that even with new/old coach Yossi Abuksis on the sidelines it was going to be a hard road to hoe.

Maccabi, wearing their white third strip made manager Paulo Sousa look like a genius once again as every single move he seems to make cane never, ever go wrong.

Beitar Jerusalem 1-0 Maccabi Petach Tikva

Beitar Jerusalem collected their first win under new coach Roni Levy at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem defeating a paltry Petach Tikva club 1-0 on a bitter cold evening. Aviram Bruchain was the star of the show with his smart pass to Yitzik Cohen who struck an intelligent ball past the MPT ‘keeper Tzachi Gigi for the only goal of the match. The first half was a comedy of errors for Beitar’s defense who could have easily given up 3 or 4 goals had the Petach Tikva offense not been so anemic. Ariel Harush made some timely saves to keep the score deadlocked at zero and gave Beitar a chance to finally score a goal in the 2nd half which they dominated for the final 35 minutes of the game.

It was nice to see Bruchian play his best game of the season and can be a real asset to Roni Levy’s offense going forward which needs a major facelift as the January transfer window opens. Eli Tabib has said he will open his wallet to the tune of 1 million NIS to bring in reinforcements and keep Beitar as competative as possible heading into the 2nd half of the season. But teh next few weeks are crucial for Bietar and for Levi as he knows he must take points from the following clubs: Hapoel Haifa away, Raanana home, Ramat HaSharon home, Hapoel Tel Aviv away, Akko home & Bnei Yehuda away. Out of 18 possible points, Levy needs to find a way to pick up 12 points and position a way to move into upper playoff contention.

I know it’s a rough road ahead for Beitar, but under a serious coach that will beat into the team, defense, defense & more defense there is a chance for them to certainly improve over the next couple of months.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-3 Hapoel Beer Sheva

Hapeoel Beer Sheva won for the first time in Bloomfield Stadium over Hapoel Tel Aviv in 19 years on a hat trick by Dovev Gabbay, slotting home 2 penalties and one standard fare goal as 2000 rabid HBS fans watched in disbelief! Tel Aviv has been struggling of late and their slide continued with the help of the referee who called the two penalties, which were definitely questionable calls. Ran Ben Shimon, coach of HTA has been on the chopping block for some time, but seems safe from management as the team is in bad financial situation. Could he leave on his own accord, yes, but time will tell with both him and star Omer Damari who is being shopped throughout Europe as the January transfer window is about to open.

Maccabi Haifa 2-1 Ashdod

Maccabi Haifa retuned to their winning ways at home on goals by Alon Turgeman and a Ruben Rayos penalty to pick up the win! David Solari Drew Ashdod close in the 68th minute but not close enough as Gady Kinda had a one on one chance against Haifa ‘keeper Bojan Sharanov but hit the post. The star of the game however was Shoval Gozlan who received the ball from Yaniv Katan in the 14th minute and got the ball to Turgeman who made it 1-0. Gozlan then got the ball in the box in minute 46 where a Mickie Seroshtan handball gave Haifa a penalty and a 2-0 advantage. Solari scoring Ashdod’s 3rd away goal of the year tried in vain to get his club closer but it was not to be for the visitors in Kiryat Eliezer stadium on this night.

Ramat HaSharon 0-2 Kiryat Shemona

The host club, Ramat HaSharon started the game with a ton of energy! but unfortunately for them didn’t finish the match that way. Kiryat Shemona scored two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game by Barak Badash, the Israeli Zlatan who earlier missed a penalty and Lithuanian Mindaugas Panka to take the three points. David Manga lifted a free kick from 35 meters out that Badash pumped into the net for the first goal and just 3 minutes later Manga’s corner kick was headed down by Badash and Panka kicked the ball into the back of the goal for the 2-0 score. Kiryat Shemona did not have one of their better games but still were able to win the match in a tough Grundman Stadium where the home side had not lost in two months since Hapoel Tel Aviv had won 5-0.

Hapoel Akko 0-2 Bnei Sakhnin

Bnei Sakhnin won for the first time on Akko to pick up the valuable points to move within only two of second place Hapoel Beer Sheva. In the 17th minute Akko learned exactly what has made Marko Balbul’s Bnei Sakhnin so lethal as Piraeus Mugrabi sent a ball to Muhamed Ghadir who sailed through the pitch, he handed off the ball to Ahmed Kasum who the have the visitors a 1-0 lead. Sakhnin then doubled their output when Muhamed Kalibat sent a ball right to Kasum who assisted on Hidalgo’s 1st goal of the year.

Hapoel Raanana 0-2 Hapoel Haifa

Haifa won games all year with incredible goal scoring from Ahed Azam & Zatko Korac and this away match against Raanana was no different as the pair scored again to hand Haifa a valuable 2-0 win at Netanya’s stadium. Rananna has now gone five games without a win and is not looking like the team we saw at the beginning of the year. As valiantly as Raanana tried to get back into the game Loai Taha was shown red in the 75th minute and spelled the end of any chance of tying up the game.

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