Maccabi Tel Aviv reestablished an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier
League standings in unforgettable manner on Monday night, thrashing arch-rival
Hapoel Tel Aviv 4-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi was ruthless from the
first whistle, scoring twice in each half to claim a memorable victory that
handed Hapoel’s title hopes what is surely a near-fatal blow.
yellow-and-blue now leads third-placed Hapoel by 11 points, with the Reds losing
their past four matches by a combined goal difference of 0-12.
plenty of criticism leveled at Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia after his side’s
cautious game-plan saw it drop to a 1-0 loss in the first derby match of the
However, Oscar’s men ran riot on Monday, steamrolling a helpless
Hapoel team with a champion’s performance.
“This is a big win, a very
important victory against a good team,” said Oscar, whose team won for the 10th
time in 11 home games this season, improving its goal difference over the past six triumphs to 25-3.
“Nevertheless, Hapoel is still not out of the
title race. We must build on this performance.”
Maccabi looked to
dominate the proceedings from the start and it wasn’t long before the Reds found
themselves on the ropes.
Rade Prica almost broke the deadlock with a
delightful bicycle kick in the eighth minute, but keeper Apoula Edel’s
well-timed dive kept Maccabi at bay, at least for a few more minutes The
yellow-and-blue pressured Hapoel deep into its own half and the breakthrough
would arrive courtesy of one of many Reds turnovers.
Eran Zahavi, playing
for the first time against his former team, squared the ball from the right
flank and Prica’s clinical finish in the 14th minute gave Edel no
Hapoel barely broke out of its own half in the subsequent
minutes, but Maccabi’s wastefulness meant it had to wait until the 43rd minute
to finally double its lead.
Maharan Radi had time and space and his
accurate cross was thumped into the back of the net by an Eliran Atar
Atar should have scored his second of the night two minutes into
the second half, blasting over the crossbar from close range.
miss would be of little consequence.
He would net his 20th goal of the
season from the penalty spot in the 75th minute after Prica was brought down in
the box by Edel and Radi completed the rout three minutes later from another
Zahavi assist, capping a night that will live long in the memory of every