The Yellow-and-Blue kicked off against Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium in Israel’s capital on a crisp February evening on Matchday 21 of the WINNER League
Eran Zahavi’s brace brought Maccabi from behind in the second half to earn a valuable point in the race for the championship. Omer Atzili and David Keltjens scored for Beitar Jerusalem in an exciting, nail biting match that ended in a 2:2 draw.
Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Peter Bosz made a number of changes from the side that played against Rishon Le’Zion this past Thursday night starting with keeper Predrag Rajikovic who mad his way back into the Yellow-and-Blue goal. A defensive foursome of Eli Dasa, Eitan Tibi, Carlos Garcia and Yuval Shpungin played just behind a midfield of Gal Alberman, Dor Peretz and Nosa Igiebor. Captain Eran Zahavi, Tal Ben Chaim and Dor Micha provided the visitors attack at Teddy Stadium.
Beitar Jerusalem had the first chance of the match in the 8th minute when Omer Atzili went in all alone on Rajikovic, but the Serbian keeper made the kick save with his right foot to keep the game goalless. Nikita Rukavytsya was up next for Beitar as his 16th minute onside effort just went wide left of the goal. Maccabi’s opening opportunity came in the 19th minute when Ben Chaim came in on the left side and sent a curling shot right into the hands of Beitar keeper Boris Kleiman.
However, the next chance Maccabi had found its way behind Kleiman. Igiebor sent Zahavi a beautiful deep ball which he coolly slotted past Kleiman as the Yellow-and-Blue took a shock 1:0 lead sending the 5,000 fans strong out of their seats.
In the 35th minute Beitar drew even when the clever Atzili sent a firecracker of a ball past a helpless Rajikovic who was screened on the play. Maccabi looked to find the go ahead marker but Dasa’s right side cross was headed by Ben Chaim into the awaiting Kleiman’s hands in the 40th minute as the sides headed into the break deadlocked at 1:1.
It didn’t take long for Beitar to take the lead early on in the second half when David Keltjens launched a screamer past a stunned Rajikovic as the hosts took a 2:1 lead in the 47th minute. Maccabi countered with a 55th minute substitution introducing Shlomi Azulay for Peretz. Ben Chaim had a chance to bring the Yellow-and-Blue level in the 61st minute but his scorcher from the left side was deflected by the head of Tal Kahila to keep Beitar in front.
But wouldn’t you know it, who would come to Maccabi’s rescue once again? None other than the captain Eran Zahavi. Number 7 lined up a perfect free kick from 17 meters out at the top of the box and put it in the top right hand corner to bring the visitors back to square one, 2:2.
Maccabi, looking to find the winner saw Itzhaki turn two Beitar players around in the box and send a perfect pass to Igiebor in the 89th minute. However, the Nigerian’s effort was deflected to safety by Claudemir Ferreira on the goal line to maintain the status quo. Igiebor then saw a straight red card just two minutes before time as the final whistle sounded to end the entertaining match in the nation’s capital.