Maccabi Haifa defeated Hapoel Raanana 4-3 to open the 2019/20 Israel Soccer League season with a barnburner of a contest at Sammy Ofer Stadium. The two sides treated the 18,000 fans to an offensive show with plenty of drama and action throughout the 90 minutes. Raanana took a quick 2-0 lead thanks to an Or Dasa brace but Greens newcomer Tjaronn Chery and striker Nikita Rukavtsya made all the difference for the hosts as Marko Balbul squad would not be outdone in front of their faithful.
The game got off to a fast start as Dasa scored his first of two in the 5th minute. A poor pass by Allyson Dos Santos was picked off by Kayes Ganem who in turn handed it to Dasa as the speedster beat Guy Haimov to take a 1-0 lead. Dasa doubled the advantage in the 24th minute when he sent home his second of the contest thanks to a Eugene Ansah cross.
However, Balbul inserted Chery five minutes later in favor of Dos Santos in a move that paid immediate dividends. With Haifa pressing to get back into the game, Yuval Ashkenazi scored from inside the box and Eyad Habshi nodded home a Chery corner just before the break to draw even at 2-2 after 45 minutes of end to end action.
Menachem Koretsky’s side calmed play down to begin the second half and retook the lead in the 65th minute via an Adi Nimni penalty following a Habshi handball in the area, but that didn’t stop the Greens as they pushed for the equalizer. Rukavytsya beat Raanana keeper Asaf Tzur in the 84th minute and headed home the winner five minutes later to complete the comeback and grab the 3 points.
Bnei Yehuda opened up the new Bloomfield in Tel Aviv with a 2-1 win over Kiryat Shemona but needed a strike deep into injury time to take the victory. Cillian Sheridan scored the first goal at the reconstructed facility to give the northern visitors a 1-0 lead but Mohammad Ghadir headed in the equalizer just after halftime off a tremendous cross by Dor Elo. Referee Eli Hachmon sent off a pair of Kiryat Shemona players drawing the ire of their owner Izzy Sheratsky, however it looked like Messay Dego’s squad would hold on to win a hard earned point. But Alban Pnishi had the final word as he slammed home a 98th minute rebound to give Yossi Abuksis’s side the 3 points just before Bnei Yehuda hosts Malmo in the return leg of their Europa League Playoff tie after falling 3-0 last week in Sweden.
Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Beer Sheva played to a goalless draw in a highly anticipated first round contest at Teddy Stadium in the nation’s capital. Roni Levy’s yellow-and-black were the better side throughout the 90 minutes of action attacking down the wings and up and the middle using tremendous speed and guile by Gadi Kinda and Levi Garcia. But heroic saves by Barak Bachar’s keeper Ernestas Setkus gave the visitor’s a point ahead of their 2nd leg Europa League Playoff Round clash on Thursday night against Feyenoord as they will attempt to overcome a 3-0 first leg loss in Holland.
Defending champions Maccabi Tel Aviv began their campaign with a 2-0 win over newly promoted Ness Tziona who returned to the top flight after 51 years in the lower divisions of Israeli soccer. Last campaign’s Player of the Season Dor Micha blasted home a first half goal thanks to a brilliant Dan Glezer assist while Eliran Atar slotted home an 11-meter spot kick to take the points.
Ashdod and Hadera each came away with a point in a 1-1 draw. Shlomi Azoulay gave the port city the side the lead when he curled a magnificent ball behind Austin Ejide but Lucio drew his squad even thanks to a smart header which he put into the corner of the goal to split the points.
Hapoel Haifa used a fluke goal by Eli Balilty in the 74th minute to defeat Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 at the Moshava Stadium. The defensive back crossed the ball into the box as he looked to find a teammate in the area but beat keeper Itamar Israeli to take home the win ahead of Saturday night’s Derby against Maccabi Haifa.
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya played to a listless 0:0 draw at the new Bloomfield Staidum in front of close to 20,000 fans.