Maccabi Haifa eased by Bnei Sakhnin 3-1 to take the win and the points in their first league game following the World Cup break. Dean David opened the scoring for the Greens as he headed home the opening goal of the match off a Muhammed Abu Fani cross to go into halftime in front 1-0. The hosts doubled their advantage when Pierre Cornud was pulled down in the box and Omer Atzily slotted home the 84th minute penalty and added a third goal when Nikita Rukavytsya nodded in another Abu Fani assist to go up 3-0. Guy Melamed broke up the clean sheet during injury time to put the visitors on the board but it was too little too late as Haifa took the victory.
“We made this game a lot harder than it should have been,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar said. “We needed to finish this off much sooner, but it’s only natural to need some time to slowly but surely get back into the swing of things following a lengthy break. The players returned in good spirits and mentally and want to continue to improve.”
“From a tactical point of view, the players did what they could,” Sakhnin coach Kobi Refuah explained. “We fell apart a bit and of course Haifa are much better and talented, but we have to move on. This wasn’t enough and I believe that we will need to make changes which is something that the management knows.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv blanked Bnei Reineh 2-0 to take the away win and the 3 points. Eran Zahavi scored earky as he took a Dor Peretz ball and scored in the 8th minute while a second half own goal by Eyad Khutaba off an Enric Saborit long shot sealed the deal for the yellow-and-blue.
“We scored in the opening ten minutes of the game and we had three other chances in the first half to score the second in order to play the second half with more confidence,” Maccabi coach Vladen Ivic began. “But it’s wasn’t easy as they are an organized team and played with a lot pf players behind the ball. We also had some good opportunities to score at the start of the second half but that’s football.”
“There are huge gaps here between the teams and everyone knows that,” Reineh bench boss Sharon Mimer commented. “We didn’t start off the game well but we then made a change to our system. That allowed us to close the gap and we played better in the second half with a chance to draw even. If we could have scored things would have been different.”
Kiryat Shemona and Sektzia Nes Ziona played to a thrilling 3-3 draw as the two teams split the points. Yoni Stoyanov gave Nes Ziona opened the scoring in the 18th minute while the aforementioned Stoyanov played facilitator for the second goal that Almog Bozaglo put behind Dziguas Bartkus for a 2-0 lead. However, right before halftime, Senin Sebai scored a scissors kick goal which was followed up by a marker by Muhammed Shaker as the two teams headed into the break all knotted up at 2-2. Shaker then broke the deadlock in the 50th minute to put Kiryat Shemona in front but Nes Zamir was tripped up in the area as the match headed into stoppage time as Levan Kutalia scored from the penalty spot to earn his team a point.
“All throughout this season these things have occurred,” a very disappointed Kiryat Shemona coach Menachem Koretzky said. “It’s not just football or a mistake in one particular match, this entire year we have seen errors that don’t even have a place in Liga Bet. I believe that we need to changeup the squad and make decisions.”
“We began the game really well,” Nes Ziona coach Nir Berkovic began. “But it’s very disappointing that we give up too many goals. It can’t continue this way if we want to stay in the league. We need to strengthen the midfield and defense as it’s just not sensible that we need to score 4 goals to win a game.”