Maccabi Tel Aviv visited Kiryat Shemona Saturday night and came away with a 1:1 draw at one of the most difficult and smallest stadiums in the league. Eli Dasa played a marvelous evening showing poise throughout the game and continuously creating chances for Maccabi while earning the Man of the Match award.
The Yellow-and-Blue came into the match looking to add to their 2:0 start to the season before the club heads off to London to face Chelsea Wednesday night on Matchday One of the UEFA Champions League Group Stages.
Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic made a number of changes to his starting lineup with Carlos Garcia starting beside Tal Ben Haim in central defense in front of Serbian ‘keeper Predrag Rajkovic. Eli Dasa coming off an impressive pair of Israel National Team matches was the right back as Yuval Shpungin moved over to left side with Gal Alberman playing in his usual defensive midfield position. Midfielders Nikola Mitrovic and Avi Rikan along with winger Tal Ben Chaim, captain Eran Zahavi and Eden Ben Basat rounded out the starting XI for Maccabi.
The visitors made their presence felt early on as Dasa tried to get the ball to Zahavi in the 7th minute but Kiryat Shemona ‘keeper Guy Haimov was able to swat it away to safety. Ahmed Abed’s 15th minute opportunity didn’t find the back of the goal but Casio Fernandes did in the 20th minute. Rajkovic misjudged a Kiryat Shemona ball that went into the box and Fernandes was able to head it home to give the hosts a 1:0 lead.
Dasa again was the catalyst for a Maccabi chance as he set up Ben Basat but his close range header went wide of the goal. The right back was in the mix in the 39th minute handing the ball off to Zahavi but his shot went wide of the goal and the captain’s 45th minute free kick went off the crossbar as the sides headed into halftime with Kiryat Shemona holding a slim 1:0 lead.
Jokanovic tried to shake things up by making all three of his substitutions by the 62nd minute of the match as Gili Vermouth, Nosa Igiebor and striker Dejan Radonjic came on for Rikan, Ben Chaim and Ben Basat. Radonjic, the Croatian striker making his debut for Maccabi and Zahavi as well as Vermouth and Igiebor would all have chances but none would find a way to get past ‘keeper Haimov.
However, it would be Alberman that would send the Yellow-and-Blue faithful out of their seats as his 18 meter missile of a shot would cleanly beat the Kiryat Shemona ‘keeper and draw Maccabi even at 1:1 in the 72nd minute. Dasa’s intelligent pass from the right side of the box found Alberman open up top as he unleashed the booming strike at the hosts goal.
Maccabi would continue to apply tons of pressure with Radonjic and Igiebor both having brilliant chances late in the match with one ball hitting the crossbar and bouncing away while another would be hit wide over the goal as the game would end with the sides splitting the points.