Maccabi Tel Aviv star Eran Zahavi.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv equaled its biggest- ever derby win over Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday night, claiming a resounding 5-0 victory in Netanya.
The teams were playing for a 150th time in league action, with the first derby taking place some 85 years ago.
Maccabi registered its 50th derby win to Hapoel’s 46, but what will mainly be remembered from Sunday was the manner of the triumph against its arch-rival.
The yellow-and-blue equaled the 5-0 record its set back in 1970 and extended its dominance over Hapoel from recent seasons, with Maccabi losing just one of the past 15 derbies.
Maccabi also maintained a six-point gap over reigning champion Hapoel Beersheba, which beat Bnei Yehuda 3-0 on Sunday and has played one match fewer than the yellow-andblue.
Maccabi needed less than five minutes to take the lead, with Nosa Igiebor volleying in the opener from the center of the box after Hapoel defender Gal Shish headed the ball straight at the Nigerian instead of clearing the danger.
Despite the excellent start, Maccabi created little else in the first half.
Hapoel had a golden opportunity to level the score in the 51st minute, with Dolly Menga finding himself all alone five meters from goal, only to send his header wide of the target.
Hapoel, which was playing under new coach Guy Luzon for the first time, was punished five minutes later.
Maccabi broke forward after a Hapoel corner, with Oscar Scarione sending the ball to Haris Medunjanin, who after controlling the ball, squared it to Tal Ben-Haim, who rounded goalkeeper Ariel Harush and scored into an empty net.
Ben-Haim secured the victory with a stunning goal in the 64th minute.
He smashed the ball in from 20 meters out for his eighth league goal of the season.
Vidar Orn Kjartansson piled the misery on Hapoel with goals in the 75th and 83rd minutes and Maccabi players remained out on the pitch long after the final whistle to celebrate with the delirious fans.
“Today was a great day for us,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze. “I have to give a huge credit to the boys who had a tremendous game. But at the end this is just three points and we have to build on this win.”
Sunday’s performance showed Luzon exactly how much work he has got at Hapoel. Eli Gutman decided to step down and appoint Luzon in his place last week, but with Hapoel in financial dire straits, owner Amir Kabiri told him that Luzon’s salary will have to come out of his pay. So desperate was Gutman to leave his post that he agreed to forgo NIS 480,000 after tax in favor of Luzon.
Luzon returned to Hapoel for a second stint, with the first ending in his resignation in November 2007 following three months at the helm.
In Petah Tikva, Anthony Nwakaeme gave Beersheba the lead in first half stoppage time and scored again in the 69th minute before setting up Lucio’s goal five minutes later.
“This was a very important game especially after we lost last week,” said coach Barak Bachar. “We put prresure on ourselves to win every match because we don’t want to drop too many points early in the season. There is always pressure and you need to know how to channel it in the right direction.”