Maccabi Tel Aviv players celebrate with Nikola Mitrovic after he scored the team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby at Bloomfield Stadium..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A third straight Premier League championship is beginning to look more and more likely for Maccabi Tel Aviv with every passing match. Maccabi cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, opening a four-point gap at the top of the standings.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona had spent more than three consecutive months in first place, but has picked up just four points from its past four matches after losing 3-1 at Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday.
Maccabi, on the other hand, has been clinical if not impressive in recent weeks.
The yellow-and-blue kept its seventh successive clean sheet on Monday, extending its unbeaten run to 11 matches with its 10th victory from the past 13 games.
Maccabi dominated Hapoel from the first whistle and took the lead in the 10th minute. Hapoel goalkeeper Apoula Edel was positioned horribly for Maharan Radi’s free-kick and the midfielder found the top right corner from 30 meters out.
Hapoel barely got out of its own half in the first half-an-hour and was fortunate to only be down by a single goal at the break.
However, the contest was as good as over seven minutes into the second half.
Nikola Mitrovic blasted the ball in from 25 meters out and Maccabi sailed to the finish line, with the derby ending in a far more peaceful manner than the previous time the teams met three months ago.
Dozens of policemen were present inside Bloomfield on Monday and not just around its perimeter as is usually the case, after the last derby had to be stopped in the first half when a Hapoel fan ran onto the pitch and assaulted Maccabi’s Eran Zahavi.
Over 220 policemen and 400 stewards in all were at Bloomfield to ensure the match went off without a hitch, with both teams also doing their part by calling for calm in the lead up to the showdown and posing for a joint team photo ahead of the kickoff.
Elsewhere Monday, Hapoel Ra’anana extended its perfect record since coach Haim Silvas was fired and then rehired, winning its fourth consecutive match by claiming a 2-0 victory over Ashdod SC in Netanya.
Silvas was sacked after Ra’anana went winless in nine consecutive games, but his chosen successor Haim Shabo ultimately only lasted two days at the job due to financial differences with the management, opening the door for Silvas’s return.
Ra’anana has won all four of its matches since, keeping its fourth straight clean sheet on Monday and climbing up to fourth place.
Mamadou Thiam scored the opener in the 30th minute, with Ben Vahaba doubling the advantage three minutes into the second half.
Meanwhile, Tuesday is set to be a nerve-wracking day for local clubs as they look to strengthen their squads before the close of the transfer window.
Maccabi Haifa has so far been the most active team in the transfer window and is set to finalize one more deal on Tuesday with the signing of Itay Shechter.
The 27-year-old striker arrived in Israel on Monday to complete his move from French club Nantes.
Following the addition of Shcehter and Eliran Atar earlier in the window, Haifa notified strikers Shimon Abu Hazeira and Weeam Amasha that their services are no longer required and the two will be aiming to find a new club on Tuesday.