Maccabi defeated Hapoel 4-2 in a spirited Tel Aviv Derby to point the city yellow-and-blue. Dor Turgeman and Eran Zahavi both scored braces in front of 15,000 at Bloomfield Stadium that sounded as if there were more than double than that in the stands. Turgeman opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game when he scored off a nice passing play between Gaby Kanichowsky and Zahavi to give Maccabi a quick 1-0 lead.
Turgeman added his second of the game off a Zahavi rebound in the 25th minute, but Elian Rohana cut the lead to 2-1 with a header and Tal Archer found the back of the goal in teh 38th minute to knot the contest up at 2-2. However, Zahavi smashed the ball home just before the break to give Robbie Keane’s team 3-2 lead while the same Zahavi slotted home a second half penalty kick to wrap up the win.
“I’m very proud of the players as they did their best,” Hapoel coach Borja Lema. “We competed very well after a few mistakes and were able to get back into the game, quality wise we were there. There were a few decisions that cost us the game. But I feel that we were there.”
Maccabi Haifa cruised by Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 as Dean David scored a second half brace to salt away the win and the 3-points to keep pace with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Anan Khalaili opened the scoring in the 7th minute while David bagged a quick brace within five minutes in the second half to put the finishing touches on the Greens win.
“We knew that we were going to come and play at a very tough pitch,” Haifa bench boss Messay Dego began. “I said before the game that Sakhnin is a team that we didn’t beat at our home stadium. We are in a very crucial period and we were pressing from the get go I’m very happy and we have to continue on because at the end of the day it all depends on us.”
“We were in the game in the first half,” Sachin coach Slobodan Drapic commented. “But we made a mistake which happens. We have a young team here and while we lost the 3-points we are still in the race and we keep wanting to improve and move ahead.”
Bnei Reineh downed Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 as Mark Koszta found the seance half winner to stun the yellow-and-black and take the 3-points and the win. Loei Halaf took advantage of a costly Beitar mistake in the 30th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead but Timoti Muzi found the equalizer from in close just two minutes into the second half to draw even. However, Shlomi Azoulay found Koszta on the edge of the box as the striker put home the winner.
“We are inconsistent,” Beitar coach Yossi Abuksis said. “I think that in the first half we were unable to just play as we made mistakes and conceded a goal. The guys weren’t at their best in this game, but we made a blitz in the second half and the players ran like crazy and we were really exposed. We made sloppy mistakes.”
“We took a big step in making sure that we stay in the league,” Reineh coach Sharon Mimer exclaimed. “But I will say that we will for sure stay when we have 33-34 points. There is no question that we are having a terrific season and this win is just another one that we can add on top. We want to win every game.”
Ashdod sunk Maccabi Petach Tikva 2-1 as a late Elad Shahaf goal gave the hosts the win and the 3-points. Mohamad Hindi opened the scoring with a penalty in the 29th minute to give Petach Tikva a 1-0 lead but Ezekiel Henty drew the port city side even in the 50th minute as both squads looked for a winner. As the match moved close to second half injury time, Gideon Akaouwa was sent off for Petach Tilkva as Ashdod had man to the good which they took advantage of as Shahaf found the back of the goal in the 97th minute to take the victory.
“Soccer is a cruel sport,” Petach Tikva coach Ron Kozuk said. “We should have been ahead 3-0 in the first half had it not been for Ariel Harush’s saves. A team like ours needs to know how to handle these difficult situations and we weren’t able to. We needed to push forward and not go backwards.”
“We waited way too long for this,” Ashdod coach Eli Levy said. “This win gives us a god push feared but we are still in a hole. This is just a small step for us on our journey that I hope will end well. We didn’t play well enough in the first half but the moves we made heading into the second were the difference makers.”