Reds score late to get started on right foot

Ben-Haim comes to rescue for Hapoel Tel Aviv with 63rd-minute winner in Ramat Gan

August 26, 2012 23:43
1 minute read.
Tel Ben Haim

Tal Ben Haim 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Hapoel Tel Aviv got its Premier League campaign off to a winning start on Sunday night, defeating newly promoted Hapoel Ramat Gan 1-0 despite a lackluster performance at the National Stadium.

Tel Aviv showed little enterprise going forward and found itself on the back foot for much of the match.

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Despite its unimpressive squad, Ramat Gan deserved at least a point against one of the title favorites on Sunday, but the hosts gifted Tel Aviv the win in the 62nd minute.

Lior Reuven was sent off after bringing down Tal Ben-Haim in the box, with the forward stepping up to convert the spot kick to give Hapoel three points it didn’t deserve.

“I admit that we saw anything but soccer in this match,” said Tel Aviv coach Nitzan Shirazi, whose team hosts Dudelange in the second leg of the Europa League playoffs on Thursday after winning 3-1 in Luxembourg last week.

“Our only goal was to somehow come through this match. I expected a tough encounter because it is difficult to play so soon after a European road tie. We must improve our play, but we are a new team and these things take time.”

Two more of the favorites to win the title will get their campaign underway on Monday when Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium.

Both teams replaced their coaching staff in the summer after disappointing seasons and enter 2012/13 full of hope.

Haifa’s fifth-place finish last season was its worse in four years, resulting in the signing of coach Reuven Atar in place of Elisha Levy.

Rising star Hen Ezra arrived with Atar from Maccabi Netanya and will be desperate to impress in his league debut for the Greens on Monday.

Tel Aviv’s most intriguing off-season acquisition was on the sidelines, with Jordi Cruyff being brought in as a sports director and Spaniard Oscar Garcia taking over as the team’s coach after spending the last two years coaching the Barcelona youth team.

The yellow-and-blue also made several interesting changes to the squad, including the addition of 30-year-old goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

The Nigerian is hoping to prove he has lost nothing of the sensational ability he displayed in four years at Hapoel Tel Aviv before spending all of last season on the bench of French side Lille.

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