Ligat Ha’Al Round 19 January 24-26, 2015

Ruben Rayos celebrating his game winning penalty goal! Courtesy Maccabi Haifa website

Maccabi Netanya 2-0 Beitar Jerusalem

Maccabi Netanya played the perfect match against struggling Beitar Jerusalem as Roni Levy and his tight defense dominated the visitors in every facet of the match both on and off the pitch. Larry Kayode sliced and diced the Beitar midfield constantly ripping down the sidelines creating havoc as well as scoring chances. Kayode was of course the catalyst on Netanya’s first goal as he raced down the right side of the pitch, turned Beitar captain Ofir Kriaff inside out and placed the perfect pass to Ron Roll for a beautiful strike just before the end of the first half.

Unfortunately for Beitar the start of half number two went from bad to worse when striker Yitzik Cohen smashed Netanya’s Eyad Abu Abaid in the neck and face sending him to ground. Referee Guy Berger issued a straight red card to Cohen as the Jerusalem supporters began to launch all kinds of drinks, projectiles and more at the players targeting Abu Abaid which prompted him to almost want to walk off the pitch. Berger needed to consult with the 4th official and Israel FA personnel as racists chants rained down onto the pitch which was subsequently reported in the referee’s report of the match.

But it was Netanya captain Eran Levy who restored order standing up for his teammate as the teams resumed play. Of course who would slam home the 2nd goal for Maccabi? None other than the aforementioned Levy with an absolute BOMBA of a goal rifling the ball off the side of his left foot hard into the top left hand corner of Boris Kleiman’s goal giving the ‘keeper absolutely no chance to make a save. The goal will definitely be a goal of the candidate and one that Levy said after the game what kind of great feeling it was to be able to hit the ball, but he’ll only really know how good it was until he sees the replay.

The win picked up a valuable 3 points for Netanya as they now sit level on points in 4th place along with Beitar, Raanana, Ashdod & Maccabi Petach Tikva. Meanwhile Beitar will face disciplinary action from the Israel FA for a number of causes including those mentioned above from Berger’s report. It will be interesting to see the punishment levied against Beitar considering those that have been handed out to Maccabi Haifa and the two Tel Aviv clubs. The question is, when will the Jerusalem fans learn that their actions just harm the club.

Kiryat Shemona 1-1 Bnei Sakhnin

Kiryat Shemona has finally been knocked off the top spot in the Ligat Ha’Al after a disappointing home draw with Bnei Saknin. David Manga scored in the 18th minute to give the northern club a 1-0 lead but Bnei Sakhnin caught a break after Adrian Rochet picked up a foolish second yellow card which led to his expulsion late in the first half. Kiryat Shemona was then forced to play defensively and eventually give up the tying goal to Yitzik Cohen in minute 60. The playing field was then evened up a few minutes later when Mohammad Zubeidat was sent off with a red card of his own leaving both sides with 10 men a piece. However, the reigning State Cup Champion couldn’t find the winning goal in the final 30 minutes of the match and dropped to 2nd place one point behind Maccaci Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Haifa 1-0 Hapoel Beer Sheva

Maccabi Haifa won at home as striker Eliran Atar returned to Israel after his his year and a half in France at Stade de Reims. Ruben Rayos converted his penalty chance as Marko Balbul picked up the win and valuable 3 points. For Beer Sheva, Maor Bozaglo had a penalty chance of his own but his howler landed in the stands as the visiting side yet again gave a poor performance that must be extremely worrying to coach Elisha Levy. Beer Sheva will take on Hapoel Raanana in Israel State Cup action and Haifa plays at home against Kiryat Shemona.

Ashdod 0-1 Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv did something that they hadn’t down in 4 years! Win at the Ashdod Stadium named in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympic Athletes that were murdere by terrorists at the 1972 Munich games. Nikola Mitrovic provided the only goal of the game as Maccabi moved into first place at least until Kiryat Shemona takes on Bnei Sakhnin Sunday night. It was not a pretty victory but coach Pako Ayestaran was happy that the players followed the game plan even if he was ejected late in the match. Maccabi takes on Hapoel Ahskelon Tueaday night in Israel State Cup action and one of their former stars Baruch Dego.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 0-0 Hapoel Petach Tikva

Hapoel Tel Aviv picked upa point but lost their coach Asi Domb after he was relieved of his duties after yet another disappointment. Both sides had very few chances as Edel Aphoula made the saves he needs too as did Kale for Petach Tikva. Eli Cohen “The Sherif” will take over the reigns at Hapoel Tel Aviv and will already be on the sidelines for a State Cup date with Kfar Saba on Wednesday night.

Maccabi Petach Tikva 0-0 Hapoel Haifa

Hapoel Haifa had a chance to snatch the 3-points in the 93rd minute from Petach Tikva but Zarko Korac couldn’t take advantage of the situation as he missed his penalty. The rebound put in by Ashro Roash looked to be good but the referee decided to wave it off. The Israel FA referee board came out against game official Eitan Shmuelivitz and wanted to see his report to understated why a good goal was disallowed. In any case both Haifa coach Reuven Atar and Petach Tikva head man Ran Ben Shimin each walked away with no goals but with one point in hand.

Hapoel Akko 0-2 Hapoel Raanana

Raanana shockingly moved into 5th place with their 3rd win in a row under coach Haim Silvas and may be playing their best football of the year. Anthony Nwakaeme struck first for the visitors which Yosef Lipka added the insurance goal to send Akko to three loses in four games since Shlomi Dura took over from Alon Harazi.

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