Maccabi Bnei Reineh surprised Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 to take the win up in the Galilee. Right before the break, Yarden Shua was pulled down in the box and then scored from the penalty spot to grab a 1-0 lead at halftime. However, Shlomi Azulay and Sambinha scored a pair of quick goals to take the lead as the hosts closed down the yellow-and-black for the balance of the game to record the victory.
“The first ten minutes of the second half determined this game,” Beitar coach Yossi Abukasis said. “On the first goal we had so many players on defense and we couldn’t mark which led to the goal. It was ten minutes where we lacked focus, organization, mistakes which decided this match. This was a gnat where the ball just didn’t find the goal.”
“My heart is filled with pride,” Reineh coach Sharon Mimer said. “We are a team that just doesn’t break against the big teams. Little Reineh can hold its head high against every team in this league and it’s all due to the players. We built this team with players who have plenty of experience as well as quality and we have seen this in action already this season.”
Hapoel Petach Tikva stunned Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-0 as Avi Rikan scored the lone goal in the second half of a game that saw each side go down a player due to a red card in the first half of play.
“The guys worked so hard,” Ofer Tesselpepe said. We didn’t begin the season well but I am happy that we were able to record out first win. The fans really supported us and I’m thrilled for them as well. We showed a lot of character and had had a number of quality chances. These were 3 important points.”
“Petach Tikva got a red card early and that didn’t help us one bit,” Beer Sheva coach Elyaniv Barda said. “We weren’t patient and even when it was 10 on 10 we controlled the pace but not like in previous games. We didn’t create chances and the sport has been cruel to us over the last few games.”
Hapoel Haifa downed Hapoel Hadera 2-1 as two late first half goals helped the Carmel Reds to the 3-points and the win. Hadera took an early lead on Aaron Leye’s penalty but Tomer Yosefi’s header off a Oren Bitton corner kick in the 41st minute drew the visitors even at 1-1. However, just minutes later Guy Melamed’s stunner got by Ohad Levita as Roni Levy’s team took the victory.
“This was an important win,” Levy explained. “We didn’t get into the game well and I was hoping that with the big crowd that came we would have started better. But we played against a team that is fighting for their lives and they showed quality. However, we took the win which was very crucial.”
“This was a very painful result for us as well as disappointing,” Hadera coach Niso Avitan said. “But we did see a team that knew what it wanted to do on the pitch, however, the two goals that Haifa scored took us out of balance. On one hand we are coming out of this game upset with the result but content with the effort.”
Hapoel Jerusalem needed a late second half stoppage time goal to draw Maccabi Netanya 1-1 and earn a split of the points in the capital city. After a goalless first half, the diamond city squad took the lead via Bar Cohen who put home a rebound in the box but Ofek Bitton found the equalizer in the 96th minute to take a point.
“We want to win every game,” Reds coach Ziv Arie said following the dramatic draw. “This was a tough game and it wasn’t played at the highest level. We were aggressive and at the end of the game we were finally able to score, so all in all the draw was fine.”
“We led this game and were dominant,” Netanya coach Ron Kozuk said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t kill off this game as we were in such control. We have to learn how to keep going forward and we were unable to do that after our goal. We needed to be more mature in terms of our game play.”
Ashdod and Maccabi Petach Tikva drew 1-1 as each side took a point at the port city. Following a scoreless opening half, Clark Robertson gave the hosts a 1-0 lead as he nodded home the opening goal, but a Gil Cohen handball in then box set up a Mohamad Hindi spot kick to give the visitors a split of the points.