The Oscar Garcia-Jordi Cruyff era at Maccabi Tel Aviv got off to a promising
start on Monday night when the yellow-and-blue defeated Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in a
thrilling encounter at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a Munas Dabbur
There had been much anticipation to see what the rebuilt Tel Aviv
would look like under new sports director Cruyff and Spanish coach Oscar, and
the early signs exhibited on Monday couldn’t really have been any more
Oscar will be the first to admit that his team still needs
plenty of work, but he couldn’t have asked for any more than a win over Haifa to
begin the Premier League season, and while his side’s defensive play was flawed
at times, the yellow-and-blue showed real promise when going
Haifa coach Reuven Atar surely hoped for a better debut as
Greens coach, but he at least can draw some confidence from the many scoring
opportunities his team created, led by impressive debutant Hen Ezra, who netted
the equalizer with an exquisite volley.
Ezra’s goal in the 38th minute
canceled out Dabbur’s sixth-minute strike, but Tel Aviv’s 20-year-old forward
had the last laugh when he netted what proved to be the winner with his head 10
minutes into the second half.
The match burst into life after just five
minutes, with Dabbur gliding through one of the many gaps in Haifa’s defense,
only to fluff his shot with just ‘keeper Nir Davidovitch to
However, one minute later his miss became a distant memory when he
once more found himself in a tempting position and this time also made the most
of it, slotting in the opener.
Tel Aviv fans were still celebrating the
goal when Ezra came centimeters from equalizing, rattling the crossbar less than
two minutes after the breakthrough with his bullet from 20 meters
Haifa looked to penetrate the Tel Aviv defense through Idan Vered
down the right flank, but his inaccuracy cost the visitors time and
The Greens should have found themselves two goals down in the 26th
minute, but fortunately for Atar’s men Gonzalo Garcia fired straight at
Haifa’s defense was constantly being embarrassed, but Tel
Aviv’s was not much better and the equalizer arrived seven minutes from the
Vered found Ezra with plenty of space in the box and the new
signing from Maccabi Netanya showed what all the hype was about with a splendid
volley which left Tel Aviv’s new ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama with no
Surely both coaches had a word with their players regarding their
defensive play at the break, but it didn’t show, with both teams continuing to
create chances almost at will.
Enyeama denied Ezra his second goal five
minutes into the second half and five minutes later Dabbur put the
yellow-and-blue back in front at the other end.
Substitute Rafi Dahan did
all the hard work down the right flank, leaving Dabbur with the simple task of
heading in his second goal of the night from close range.
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