Maccabi Tel Aviv strengthens hold on first place

Zahavi penalty gives 10-man yellow-and-blue victory over Mac PT; Sakhnin thrashes Hap TA 4-0.

October 18, 2015 04:03
2 minute read.
Eran Zahavi

Maccabi Tel Aviv star Eran Zahavi scored both of his team’s goals last night – including an injury-time thriller after F c b asel had gone ahead 2-1 late – as the yellow-and-blue rallied for a 2-2 draw in the Champions League playoff first leg in Switzerland. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a scare to claim a 2-1 win at Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday night and extend its lead at the top of the Premier League standings to four points.

Eran Zahavi scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, his sixth goal in seven league matches, and the three-time reigning champion held on for a third straight victory despite having to play with 10 men and winger Tal Ben-Haim in goal from the 87th minute.

Maccabi goalkeeper Daniel Lifshitz was sent off for a foul on Oz Peretz, and with Tel Aviv running out of substitutions, Ben- Haim was sent to play in goal and even made one save to help secure the win.

Carlos Garcia had given Tel Aviv the lead in the 20th minute, with Guy Melamed equalizing 10 minutes later.

“It was a complicated game for us,” said Tel Aviv coach Slavisa Jokanovic, whose team visits Porto in Champions League action on Tuesday. “We played better in the second half, but we didn’t score goals and in the end we made strange mistakes.”

After opening the season with four consecutive wins to seize control of first place, Petah Tikva dropped to its third straight loss on Saturday. Nevertheless, Petah Tikva coach Ran Ben-Shimon insisted he was pleased with his side’s play and blasted referee Orel Greenfeld for failing to spot an Eitan Tibi handball in the box in the 69th minute which should have resulted in a Petah Tikva penalty.

“I’m not disappointed with my team,” said Ben-Shimon, who added that he will probably receive a 10-year ban should he reveal what he really thinks of Greenfeld.

“This was a very tight match and neither team dominated. I’m proud of my team.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv suffered its heaviest home defeat in 22 years on Saturday, losing 4-0 to Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium. Hapoel lost goalkeeper Ram Strauss to a red card after just seven minutes following his foul on Weeam Amasha, who stepped up to slot in the penalty. Shlomi Azulay made it 2-0 after 25 minutes before Ali Osman (71) and Tzahi Elihen (76) completed the rout.

“We will learn a lot from this match and are already looking ahead to next weekend,” said Walid Badir, who continues to coach Hapoel on an interim basis.

The last time Hapoel lost at home by such a scoreline was in November 1993, with Beitar Jerusalem thrashing the Reds at Bloomfield.

Hapoel is hoping to bring back coach Eli Gutman, who left his position with the Israel national team last week following its failure in Euro 2016 qualification.

Hapoel Ra’anana climbed to third place on Saturday, beating Hapoel Acre 1-0 through Barak Badash’s 52nd-minute winner. Ra’anana has picked up 10 of a possible 12 points on the road this season.

Hapoel Kfar Saba registered its second victory of the season on Saturday, defeating Maccabi Netanya 1-0 away from home. Ran Itzhak netted the winner in the 16th minute before being sent off seven minutes into the second half. Netanya couldn’t make the most of its oneman advantage and lost Amaya Taga to a red card in the 85th minute.

Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda beat Hapoel Haifa 1-0 thanks to Pedro Galvan’s goal in the 68th minute.

Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Maccabi Haifa on Sunday, with Beitar Jerusalem to play Hapoel Beersheba at Teddy Stadium on Monday.

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