Maccabi Tel Aviv got its Premier League title defense off to a blistering start
on Saturday, scoring twice within the first seven minutes to beat Hapoel Acre
2-0 on the road.
Barak Itzhaki opened the scoring from close range after
just 48 seconds following a swift team move and the yellow- and-blue effectively
clinched the win in the seventh minute thanks to Eran Zahavi’s clinical
“There is still plenty of room for improvement, but we won our
first game which was far from easy,” said Maccabi coach Paulo
Itzhaki, who returned to Maccabi after a year on loan at Cypriot
side Anorthosis Famagusta, was delighted with the win despite a lackluster
display in the second half.
“We are always aspiring to play better, but
this is just the beginning of the season,” he said. “We aren’t playing on the
We faced an opponent and they made life difficult for us
after going two goals down.”
Hapoel Beersheba entered the season with
high expectations following the acquisitions of Elyaniv Barda and Maor Buzaglo
and it got its campaign off to a promising start on Saturday, defeating Beitar
Jerusalem 2-0 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Beitar, which was hosting
the match at Ramat Gan as the pitch at Teddy Stadium has yet to recover from the
Maccabiah, was outplayed throughout the first half, but ultimately lost due to
two costly mistakes by the usually reliable goalkeeper Ariel
Beersheba took the lead in the 19th minute through Siraj Nasar,
with Harush parrying his header into the back of the net. The southerners
clinched the three points in second-half stoppage time after Harush dropped
Tomer Swisa’s cross beyond the goal-line.
“Clearly we will only be judged
by how we play throughout the season, but it is always good to get off on the
right foot,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We didn’t play as well in the
second half, but we made the most of our chances and that is what counts. I
never said that we couldn’t win the championship this season but I never said
that we would either. We need to be consistent, play attractive soccer and aim
to finish among the league’s top teams.”
Bnei Yehuda was one of the
league’s quieter teams during the summer, but it opened 2013/14 with a win on
Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 1-0 courtesy of Yoro Lamine’s goal
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon was without five players for the match
against Hapoel Haifa on Saturday due to a registration mishap and it paid the
price, losing 2-0 at home.
Asrat Megersa left the hosts with 10 men after
being sent off five minutes from halftime and Haifa secured the win through
goals by Maharan Lala (76) and Zarko Korac (81).
Ramat Hasharon ended the
match with nine men following Emir Hadzic’s sending off six minutes from
“To win away from home in your first match is a dream start,” said
Haifa coach Shlomi Dora. “I’m happy that the players managed to remain patient
until they finally made the breakthrough.”
Hapoel Ra’anana beat Maccabi
Petah Tikva 1-0 in Netanya on Saturday in a battle between the league’s two
Mamadou Toure scored Ra’anana’s winner in the 14th
“I’m used to the fact that my team is overlooked,” said Ra’anana
coach Menahem Koretzki, whose side was tipped by many to make an immediate
return to the National League. “I’m pleased with the way we played, but there is
still plenty of work to be done.”
The first weekend of action will be
completed on Sunday when Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Haifa
visits Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
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