The Tel Aviv derby has been played since 1931, but Monday’s 143rd edition will go down in history as one of the most remarkable showdowns between Maccabi and Hapoel the city has ever seen.
An Eran Zahavi goal with the last kick of the game handed 10-man Maccabi a 3-2 victory over Hapoel at Bloomfield Stadium, giving the yellow-and-blue a seven- point gap at the top of the Premier League standings.
Zahavi gave Maccabi the lead in the 33rd minute thanks to a dreadful blunder by Hapoel goalkeeper Boris Kleyman. However, Maccabi had to play with 10 men from the 38th minute after Rade Prica was shown a red card for elbowing Hapoel’s Bryan Gerzicich and the score was level at the break following Omer Damari’s 43rd minute equalizer.
Hapoel looked to be heading to its first win in the derby since the start of last season when Damari scored from the spot three minutes from time. However, Maccabi immediately drew level through a Zahavi penalty and the midfielder gave the defending champion all three points against all odds by completing his hat-trick with an accurate shot from the edge of the box deep into stoppage time.
It took a goalkeeping blunder to open up the match after a cagey start to what is always a very tense affair between two bitter rivals.
Zahavi sent a weak effort straight at Kleyman, who was making his first start since December after playing for much of the first half of the season, replacing the erratic Danny Amos.
However, the ‘keeper inexplicably allowed the ball to roll between his hands and legs and into the back of the net, gifting Maccabi the opener.
Maccabi was in the driving seat, but just four minutes later the match would turn on its head.
Prica elbowed Gerzicich and was shown a straight red card, which was exactly the boost Hapoel required after Kleyman’s howler.
It took the hosts just five more minutes to equalize.
Damari rose above Maccabi defender Shiran Yeini and left goalkeeper Juan Pablo no chance with his header.
Damari came centimeters away from his 21st goal of the season three minutes into the second half, sending his shot from an awkward angle just wide.
Despite being down to 10 men, Zahavi should have really put Maccabi back in front in the 50th minute, but he failed to get the better of Kleyman with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Nevertheless, Maccabi would remain on the back foot for almost the entire second half, doing its best to soak up Hapoel’s pressure.
Gili Vermut squandered a golden opportunity in the 55th minute, but Maccabi managed to contain Hapoel for most of the half.
However, it couldn’t hold on until the final whistle.
Referee Eli Hakhmon controversially awarded Hapoel a penalty in the 87th minute, adjudging that goalkeeper Juan Pablo brought down Vermut.
Damari stepped up to convert the spot kick, but Maccabi struck immediately at the other end. Tal Ben-Haim was brought down and Zahavi scored from the spot before netting the winner and sparking crazy celebrations.
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