Bnei Reineh shocked Maccabi Haifa 1-0 as Shlomi Azulay scored the lone goal of the match for the newly promoted club as they took the 3-points and the win. The Greens who had played just a few days earlier at Juventus in Champions League play saw wholesale changes in the starting lineup made by head coach Barak Bachar which backfired in the first half of play.
Rarely used Yinon Eliyahu pulled down Shlomi Azulay as he broke towards they Haifa goal earning the defender a straight red card while reducing the back to back champions to 10 men. On the ensuing free kick, Azulay sent a perfect ball that went off of Nikita Rukavytsya that confused second choice keeper Roi Mishpati and went right into the goal for the 1-0 Reineh lead that stood up for the balance of the game.
“There’s nothing that comes close to the feeling after you have defeated Maccabi Haifa,” an emotional Reineh coach Sharon Mimer commented. “We beat a Champions League team and I have to credit the players who believed that they could win. There’s no question that Haifa’s loss to Hapoel Jerusalem made them prepare much more diligently for us but we took the 3 points.”
“We beat Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beer Sheva and we lost to Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Reineh,” Bachar began. “We didn’t enter this game well enough even though I felt that we had prepared as best as we could due to the circumstances. But that doesn’t justify a loss like this. This is very disappointing and the players should have been able to win this game even with 10-men.”
The man of the match Shlomi Azulay reflected on the shock victory, “It’s very hard to believe with complete faith that we could win a game against Maccabi Haifa. We knew that they were not playing at 100% and luckily for us that was the vase. We still have to be more accurate and if we could have been the game would have been even easier.”
Hapoel Hadera downed hapless Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 as the capital city side find themselves firmly entrenched in the league’s basement. Jonathan Cisse headed home an early marker while Muhammed Khatib doubled the advantage to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the 24th minute.
Things went from bad to worse when Ronen Hanchis was issued a straight red card for a reckless tackle to leave Beitar with ten men for a little over a full half of soccer. Ion Nicolaescu cut the lead to 2-1 via penalty in the 62nd minute but that was it from the yellow-and-black as Hadera took the win and three points.
“It’s not easy to win as the teams in this league are very even,” Asaf Nimni said. “Beitar had plenty of energy despite playing with a man down and could have tied the game up. But most importantly is that we took the points, however, we have plenty to learn from the game.”
“The second half was positive and can give us some optimism,” Gal Cohen who was on the bench for Beitar as head coach Yossi Abuksis had been suspended. “Everyone knows that we can do more but we are starting off the games poorly and we are conceding goals at a worrying rate. I believe that we should have taken a point in this game.”
Bnei Sahknin downed Hapoel Jerusalem 2-1 to send the capital city reds to their first loss of the season. Ovadia Darwish nodded home the opening goal for Sakhnin early on in the first half but William Togui on a counter attack drew Ziv Arie’s squad even at 1-1 in the 63rd minute. As the game looked to settle down, Ante Puljic was able to stun the hosts as his 79th minute attempt found its way into the Jerusalem goal as Haim Silvas’s team took the victory and the 3-points.
“We played against a very good team that is in excellent shape,” Sakhnin coach Haim Silvas explained. “We did what we needed to do but I also believe that we can do even more. We came here and defeated a team that hadn’t lost all season but we were very efficient and played high quality soccer.
“We played well for the most part of this game,” Jerusalem’s coach Ziv Arie said. “We controlled the duels and we shouldn’t have lost this game. We controlled the pace of play and I am disappointed that weren’t able to keep the game at 1-1.”
Maccabi Netanya and Ness Ziona played to a 1-1 draw as the two sides split the points. Igor Zlatanovic scored via a 3rd minute penalty to give the diamond city side a 1-0 lead but Or Roizman found the equalizer in the 42nd minute as each team earned a point for their efforts.
“The first 25 minutes of the match was like how we play in practice and we easily took the lead,” Netanya coach Benny Lam said. “But it’s crazy that we didn’t finish off this game when we could have. But I am sure we will get out of the situation we are in and we will score more goals, it will happen.”
“We missed many chances, but Netanya is an excellent team,” Ness Ziona bench boss Nir Berkovic said. “They are very well balanced and can pressure any team all over the pitch. You need a lot of luck in soccer. We have a good team that won’t be relegated so fast like everyone may think.”