Soccer ball (illustrative).
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
In a top-of-the-table battle, Maccabi Tel Aviv moved into first place after defeating Hapoel Hadera 4-0 on Match day 7 of the Israel Premier League “Ligat Japanika.” A first-half brace by Chico Ofoedu and a lone strike by Eyal Golasa gave the yellow & blue a 3-0 lead by half-time while Enric Saborit scored his first goal in the second half to wrap up a tidy 4-0 win.
It didn’t take long for Maccabi to reward a full house of yellow & blue fans on hand at the Netanya Stadium, as Chico Ofoedu found the back of the goal in the seventh minute. Dor Micha sent a tremendous through pass to Dor Peretz who took the ball to the right of the goal and crossed it to the striker who tapped it home for a 1-0 lead.
In the 33rd minute, Ofoedu picked up his second goal of the contest as he stole the ball in the Hadera half of the pitch, after a David Matteos miscue, and made his way by keeper Austin Ejide where he slotted it into the goal for a 2-0 lead. Three minutes later, Maccabi added to their advantage as Eyal Golasa sent a shot from the middle of the box that hit off a Hadera defender and made its way behind Ejide for a 3-0 advantage.
As the match moved into the second half, Enric Saborit added to the lead as the left back took care of an errant clearance and slammed home the ball from the top of the box for the 4-0 victory.
Following the match, yellow-andblue head coach Vladimir Ivic summed up the win, “We played well but I’m sure we can play better. Our target is to be better and better.” Hadera’s boss, Niso Avitan, spoke about the contest from his point of view. “It’s never pleasant to lose,” he said, “but I feel that this was deserved as Maccabi was better than us in every parameter.”
In other action, Hapoel Beersheba disposed of Hapoel Ra’anana 2-0 at Toto Turner Stadium. thanks to a pair of second-half goals by Eden Ben Basat and Dia Saba, who scored earlier in the week in the same facility for the Israel National Team against Albania. Barak Bachar, Beersheba’s coach, spoke about the win, saying, “You can say that this was an important victory building on the last win we had after a tough start to the season.”
Struggling Beitar Jerusalem traveled to Ashdod where they continued their disappointing season drawing 1-1. Ashdod’s Gadi Kinda returned to the lineup – after being out with injuries for close to nine months – and scored first for the hosts via a header. Jerusalem couldn’t muster much of an attack until Maor Buzaglo was inserted into the lineup in the 70th minute and sent a magnificent cross to Idan Vered, who put the ball behind the Ashdod keeper Yoav Gerafi four minutes later to split the points. Following the match, Beitar head coach Guy Luzon parted ways with the club.
Hapoel Haifa visited Kiryat Shmona and also split the points in a 1-1 draw. Gal Arel scored for the Carmel Reds, and Muhammad Shaker found the back of the goal for Kiryat Shmona, in a match that was marred by a controversial penalty call in favor of Haifa that Arel converted in the 22nd minute.
Bnei Yehuda hosted Hapoel Tel Aviv in a matchup that ended in a listless 0-0 draw, as each team took home a point. Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Sakhnin also finished in a goalless affair with both contests taking place at Hamoshava Stadium.
In other soccer news, Israel’s top international referee Orel Grinfeld was named to officiate the Real Madrid and Viktoria Plzen Champions League match, becoming the first blue-andwhite referee in charge of a game featuring the defending European club champion.