Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in a back and forth battle in the first Israeli Classico of the season as Stipe Perica scored the winning goal in the second half to give the hosts the 3-points. Patrick van Leeuwen’s squad grabbed an early lead via Idan Nachmias but Sun Menachem drew Barack Bachar’s club even before halftime. However, Perica took care of a brilliant Sheran Yeini dribble in the box as the Maccabi faithful celebrated the victory.
“We needed the victory which beings us back into good position and gives us motivation for the games to come” a content Van Leeuwen stated. “This gives a good boost to the players and it’s a team success which is what we are looking for again next week at Beer Sheva.
“We didn’t have a great second half and I had to make some substitutes in order to steady the team,” Haifa coach Bachar said. “We played against an excellent team and we deserved to lose the game today. We gave up an early goal and finally drew even but it wasn’t enough. I am not going to make up any excuses.”
Both squads came into the contest after playing their first game of the UEFA Conference League group stages which saw Maccabi Tel Aviv defeat Alashkert 4-1 while Maccabi Haifa played to an impressive goalless draw against Dutch powerhouse Feyenoord.
Maccabi Tel Aviv struck first as Dan Bitton sent a terrific free kick into the box that Haifa keeper Josh Cohen pawed right to Idan Nachmias who put the ball home for a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute. Bitton tried his luck once again just a few minutes later to no avail while Sheran Yeini did the same for Patrick van Leeuwen’s side as well but came up empty.
Tjaron Chery had a brilliant chance to draw his team even soon thereafter but his free kick from just outside of the box was parried by young Tel Aviv shot stopper Daniel Peretz to safety. Haifa’s Omer Atzily who was playing against his former team sent in a long free kick right to feet of Sun Menachem but the defensive back’s effort just went wide right of the goal in the 18th minute.
Gaby Kanichowsky sent Stipe Perica a fantastic ball as the latter headed it with authority towards Cohen’s goal, but the Haifa keeper was once again up to the task as he tapped it over the bar in the 31st minute. Barak Bachar’s squad found the equalizer off a fancy passing play from a corner as Sun Menachem scored thanks to a goalmouth pass by Dolev Haziza.
Bitton and Yeini teamed up on a corner kick that just missed the target while Brandley Kuwas’s scorcher was saved by Cohen as the sides went into the break all knotted up at 1-1.
Kuwas and Haziza traded chances as the second half got underway while Bitton’s 25 meter attempt went over the goal as the game continued at a frantic and entraining pace.
An active Yeini worked his magic in the box and handed the ball off to Perica who made no mistake from in close to give Maccabi Tel Aviv a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute. Kanichowsky and Haziza each had opportunities but came up short while Avi Rikan’s attempt form 20 meters went out.
Maccabi kept pushing forward as they wrapped up a 2-1 victory over the defending league champions.
Hapoel Nof HaGalil blanked Ashdod 2-0 as the newly promoted club won their second game in a row to climb the early season table. Stav Nachmani gave Yaron Hochenboim’s squad a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute while KeVaughn Frater scored a second half penalty to add an insurance marker and give the Galilee based side the 3-points over struggling Ashdod.
“I never imagined that we would be in this position after the third game,” Hochenboim said. “I am so proud of the guys. We just continued to attack despite a poor opening on our part. I know where we are on the table but we can only really look at that after 7-8 games.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Tel Aviv drew 1-1 as each side took a point a piece at the Moshava Stadium. Muhammed Awaad put the hosts on the board in the 4th minute but Guy Luzon’s squad’s lead didn’t hold up for too long as Farley Rosa scored thanks to a Ben Bitton assist to split the points.
“There was a lot of action in the first half and I am sure the fans enjoyed that,” Luzon said following the game. “We had 3-4 chances to score again and we had some very dangerous opportunities but the clash cooled off in the second half and the draw was a true refection of the 90 minutes.”
“This was a very difficult game and we knew that Petah Tikva was an extremely strong team and tactical as well,” stated Hapoel assistant coach Saleem Tuama. “There were many fouls in this tactical matchup and now we jus have to move on as the season is young.”
Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Beer Sheva played to a disappointing goalless draw to split the points at Doha Stadium in the Galilee.
“This was a tough game,” Beer Sheva coach Roni Levy explained. “There were some minutes where we weren’t very dominant but they are also a dangerous team and we held their chances. As the game went on we had more chances and it’s too bad we didn’t score.”
“One point, that’s the reality, but it was a good point,” Sakhnin coach Sharon Mimer said. “We played against a club that us very strong and have quality with a budget that is four times of ours. Over the past three games against good competition we have showed that we can hold our own.”
Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Netanya played to a 1-1 draw at in the capital city. The diamond city squad grabbed a 1-0 lead thanks to Omri Gendelman’s 21st minute goal but Richmond Boakye found the equalizer in teh second half to take a point a piece.
Hapoel Haifa slipped by Kiryat Shemona 1-0 on Alon Turgeman’s goal as the Carmel reds took the 3-points.
Hapoel Hadera and Hapoel Jerusalem played to a dry goalless draw at the Netanya Stadium to split the points.