Avi Nimni 224.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv bounced back from last week's 0-1 loss to defending champion Maccabi Haifa by producing another solid performance in a 2-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva in a Premier League match on Saturday.
While Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya managed only draws and apparently dropped out of the title race, Maccabi Tel Aviv came out strong against the "Luzons."
A brilliant performance by Yossi Shivhon help the team prevail and keep up the pressure on league-leader Betar Jerusalem.
"A good performance," said Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Eli Cohen. "The loss to Haifa was only a minor setback, which was a result of inexperience and bad luck. Many of our leading stars are suffering from minor injuries, but I'm glad they are sacrificing themselves for the team. Avi Nimni played a big role in the win.
"We'll keep fighting until the end of the season. Our squad is not big like Betar's, but our players are fighters and will play hard in every game."
Betar will have a chance to re-establish its seven-point lead when it takes on Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday evening. Star striker Toto Tamuz was involved in a car accident over the weekend, but escaped unhurt and will be available on Monday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv welcomed back captain Avi Nimni, who passed his pre-game fitness tests, and attacked Petah Tikva's goal, but a series of acrobatic saves by Ohad Cohen resulted in a goalless first half.
However, Tel Aviv broke through just two minutes into the second half when an attack was initially foiled by Petah Tikva's defense, but the ball was cleared only to Moshe Mishaelov. The defender let fly with a shot from outside the penalty area that landed in the back of the net.
Tel Aviv struck again in the 80th minute with a deadly counterattack, as Shivkhon showed great vision when he set up substitute Erez Mesika. The physical forward sealed the result with a sharp strike from the edge of the box.
Hapoel Kfar Saba 1, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1
Tel Aviv got off to a dream start when it took the lead after just four minutes thanks to a defensive blunder by Kfar Saba.
Rami Duani unleashed a shot on the Kfar Saba goal, which was cleared poorly by Liron Zarko and deflected into the goal.
Kfar Saba pushed forward and the hard work paid off in the 31st minute when Emmanuel Pappoe infiltrated the box unmarked and applied a close range finish to level the score.
Both teams tried to find the winner in the second half, but to no avail.
"We made a great start to the game," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said after the disappointing draw. "We are not playing well lately and failed to take advantage of our chances. I am very disappointed with the draw, as we have lost two valuable points at a very crucial stage of the season."
Maccabi Herzliya 5, Hakoah Ami. Ramat Gan 0
Maccabi Herzliya took a huge step toward assuring itself another season in the top division of Israeli soccer on Friday when Freddy David's team trounced its main rival in the fight against relegation, Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan.
Ramat Gan conceded the first goal in just the sixth minute when Yossi Biton headed in an own goal.
Igor Mostarlic doubled Herzliya's lead in the 39th minute with a crisply struck drive from the edge of the box, and the rout continued in the second half.
Mostarlic chipped in his second of the game in the 52nd minute after spotting Israel Philosof out of position, and Omer Buksenboim made a brilliant solo move and to scored the fourth in the 65th minute.
Yannick Kamanan capped the scoring in the 80th minute with a long range strike.