Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-1 Maccabi Netanya
It’s quite amazing how sports work. You really never know what is going to happen at a sporting event. Sure you can expect that team “A” will defeat team “B”, or player “X” will be the star of the show but you can never expect to see a fan coming out of the stands to attack a player which we witnessed last week. This week it was something different. How about Maccabi Tel Aviv’s captain, defender Sheran Yeini having to play goal the last quarter hour or so making a number of quality saves to preserve 3-1 victory over their rivals from Netanya.
On paper this was a game that Tel Aviv was the far superior side, but nonetheless Netanya came into the match swinging and took a shock 1-0 lead on a quick restart near the Maccabi goal as Nigerian Larry Kayode pounced on the opportunity to score his 4th goal in 3 games. Tel Aviv were playing without star Eran Zahavi who was suspended due to his red card after he retaliated when being attacked by Hapoel Tel Aviv hooligan “Fuad”, however it didn’t seem to stop the Tel Aviv attack.
Pako Ayestaran decided to start both Rada Prica & Eden Ben Bassat along with Tal Ben Chaim and he was rewarded as Prica scored a pair of goals and Ben Basat & Ben Chaim were very active all game long. Prica’s first strike was a header from a Nikola Mitrovic cross and his 2nd goal of the night was the club’s third where he smashed the ball home after a Netanya defensive error. Eitan Tibi also scored picking up his first mark of the year after heading in a Ben Chaim cross late in the first half.
But the fun began late in the match when Juan Pablo who has been suspect this season misjudged a Netanya break and came out of the goal swatting away the ball with his hands outside of the box. That resulted in a red card and forced Maccabi to play Sheran Yeini in goal. The yellow and blue had used it’s last substitute forcing the need to replace Juan Pablo with a player already on the pitch and Yeini took the gloves and ‘keeper kit as he had done a few years back. He made some terrific saves in helping Maccabi take the 3 points and stay neck & beck with Kiryat Shemona who they play in 2 weeks.
It was noticeable that Netanya was able to break down the Tel Aviv defense on numerous occasions with Larry Kayode leading the way most times. When asked about this after the match coach Ayestaran said that he looks at defense as a team effort and just not the back four defenders. He enjoys and appreciates the offense his team produces as he has mentioned in the past and would rather see a 5-2 win rather than a 1-0 victory.
While that may be true he still has to be a bit concerned about the lack of discipline his ‘keeper and the defenders seem to lack on occasion. It also has to be worrisome that Kayode constantly was a threat breaking through the backline time after time.
With Kiryat Shemona away on deck for Tel Aviv they should pay close attention to the speed of both David Manga & Rogers Kola. Manga leads the league with 7 assists and has been a threat time after time. But it’s not just Manga who contributed 2 assists last match on corners that resulted in goals (which is yet another thing Maccabi has got to watch), it’s Roie Kehat, Mindaugus Panka, Ofir Mizrachi, Kassio Fernandes & keeper Guy Haimov. Plus you’ve got a terrific young coach in Barak Bachar on the sidelines Kiryat Shemona will be Tel Aviv’s biggest title threat this season as they are still undefeated.
It should be an interesting couple of weeks preparing for this important match. Will it decide the title as one reporter asked last night to Pako? No, definitely not. Will it potentially be able to play mind games should they lose, certainly and that’s something I’m sure Pako doesn’t want his players to have to deal with.