Maccabi Tel Aviv took a giant step towards wrapping up the 2019/20 championship with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium. With the victory, the yellow-and-blue have opened up a 12 point gap with 8 games remaining in the season.
Midfielder Eyal Golasa scored the first goal for Vladimir Ivic’s squad when he took a marvelous pass from Yonatan Cohen in the box and fired the ball past Greens keeper Josh Cohen for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. The players celebrated the strike by holding up Eitan Tibi’s number 18 jersey to recognize their teammate who is sitting Shiva after his father had passed away earlier in the week. The hosts doubled their advantage in the 86th minute when Matan Hozez came racing into the box from the right side and beat Cohen to sew up the 2-0 win.
“This was a big game but it was difficult for both teams to play without fans,” explained stoic Ivic. “We play for them and we hope they will be back with us soon. I can’t say that we have won the title yet as we still have a lot of games in front of us and we are professionals. We would like to finish the season undefeated but we still have 8 games including two Derbies.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv continued their fine play since the resumption of the season with an easy 3-0 win over Beitar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium. The Reds began their scoring spree on an Omri Altman penalty in the 17th minute after Shay Eisen’s attempt from outside of the box hit Shay Konstantin’s hand good for a spot kick. Altman was busy once again in the 40th minute as Beitar’s Ofir Kriaff coughed up the ball to Maor Buzaglo who slotted it to an oncoming Altman for his 11th goal of the season. After playing facilitator, Buzaglo put home a marker off a Michael Olaha pass to wrap up a well earned 3-0 victory.
“Right now we are only concentrating on our immediate goals, to win games and play well,” said Reds coach Nir Klinger. “The players and staff have worked very hard during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure that everyone would be fit. You don’t forget how to play football after three months and we were able to return to the good things that we had been doing before the break.”
“The first half was our worst of the season,” stated a disappointed Beitar coach Roni Levy. “We didn’t begin the game well, we weren’t motivated and we didn’t play well tactically. We even gave them a number of gifts and helped them score goals.”
Ashdod stunned visiting Hapoel Raanana 3-2 by scoring three unanswered second half goals at the Yud Alef Stadium. With Ranaana in last place and headed towards relegation, Eyal Lahcman’s squad took a surprise 1-0 lead in the 39th minute thanks to a free kick strike by veteran Idan Shemesh. David Mateos doubled the advantage with a 61st minute goal but five minutes later Ran Ben Shimon’s team cut the lead to 2-1 on a Roie Gordana penalty. Second half substitute Sagiv Yehezel drew the hosts even when he put home a brilliant pass by Shlomi Azulay as the hosts continued to pressure Raanana. With time ticking down, Dean David who had missed numerous chances to score the winner late in the game for Ashdod, finally put the ball by Assaf Tzur deep into injury time to snatch the 3 points.
“I’m happy that I was able to enter the game and help the club win,” said an ecstatic Yehezkel. “It was a tough contest especially because we had dug a 2-0 hole for ourselves. But we showed a tremendous amount of character and played the full 90+ minutes to score a qsweet victory.”
Maccabi Netanya dumped Kiryat Shemona 3-1 as three different goal scorers beat the northern side’s Lithuanian keeper Džiugas Bartkus. Guy Melamed opened the scoring with a 36th minute goal from close in while Hen Ezra added the diamond city squad’s second goal just before half-time for a 2-0 lead at the break. Mohammed Shaker pulled a goal back in the 58th minute but Gaby Kanichowsky salted away the victory soon thereafter to give the hosts the 3 points.
“I waited a long time for this,” said Ezra after having not scored after two years in the Premier League. “I’m very happy that I scored and that e won after a tough period for all of us. I had some good performances before this one but I just didn’t score.”
Hapoel Hadera’s Gilad Avramov scored in the 95th minute to earn to a 2-2 draw against Sektzia Nes Tziona. After a scoreless first half of play, Raz Stein and Eial Strahman scored five minutes apart to take a commanding 2-0 lead with a half hour remaining in the contest. However, Roie Zikri cut the advantage to 2-1 in the 68th minute setting up Avramov’s late heroics just as the final whistle was about to be blown to give each side a point a piece.
Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva played to a 1-1 draw by the Carmel mountain as Nes Zamir gave Haifa the lead in the 70th minute but Josue drew the Southern Reds even 10 minutes later.
Bnei Yehuda played to a scoreless draw against Hapoel Kfar Saba to split the points.