ONE OF the biggest stars in Israeli soccer history – Yossi Benayoun – signed yesterday with Beitar Jerusalem and returns to the team from the capital about a year after leaving for Maccabi Petah Tikva. At season’s end, Benayoun will hang up his shoes at the age of 39 and will receive a two-year posi.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
In Israel Premier League action, table leader Maccabi Tel Aviv dropped Hapoel Ra’anana 2-0 on Monday night as Itay Shechter scored a first-half goal, while Dor Peretz finished off a fine team play to score the second goal in the victory.
Prior to the match, a moment of silence was held in memory of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israel Football great Sheya Glazer who passed away at the age of 91. Shechter put home a Maor Kandil pass in the 38th minute and Peretz beat Ra’anana ’keeper Asaf Tzur thanks to a short pass by Eliran Atar in the box to complete a wonderful collective effort for the second tally.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba squeaked by Ashdod 1-0 on a second-half goal by Nigel Hasselbaink to take the three points in a rough-and-tumble battle on the pitch.
Beersheba midfielder Erik Sabo was issued a straight red card in the 25th minute when he choked and threw Amran El Krenawy to the ground after the latter shoved the former in the back, reducing the hosts to 10 men. However, the numerical advantage didn’t last long when, two minutes later, Dudu Bitton pushed Loai Taha to the ground earning a red card of his own as both sides played the balance of the match shorthanded.
Dia Saba sent a through ball to Hasselbaink in the 62nd minute as the Dutchman beat Roei Mishpati to give Beersheba the lone goal of the match.
Also, Hapoel Hadera manhandled Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0 as Freddy-Ange Plumain recorded a brace for the hosts and Eliel Peretz assisted on all three goals.
Hadera broke the ice in the 38th minute when Peretz took advantage of a Lidor Cohen mistake, crossed the ball to Plumain who sent it behind ’keeper Yossi Ginzburg for a 1-0 lead. The hosts doubled their advantage just before halftime when Peretz sent a perfect through ball to Plumain who made it 2-0 after 45 minutes.
Hadera added insult to injury when Peretz again played facilitator in the 55th minute, this time to Lucio who scored the third goal for Niso Avitan’s side to wrap up a tidy triumph.
Ten-man Maccabi Netanya defeated Kiryat Shmona 1-0 thanks to a first-half strike by Fatos Beciraj as the diamond city side held on to win the contest after American defender Jonathan Bornstein was sent off in the second half.
Host Netanya found the back of the net in the 18th minute when Guy Melamed raced down the right side of the pitch and crossed the ball to Beciraj, who headed it behind Dziugas Bartkus for a 1-0 lead.
Bornstein was issued his second yellow card and was sent off in the 57th minute, but Netanya was able to hold off the Kiryat Shmona attack to pick up the three points.
Following the contest, Kiryat Shmona coach Haim Silvas was relieved of his duties and was replaced by youth coach Tomer Kashtan.
Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa drew 1-1 and split the points at Teddy Stadium in the nation’s capital.
Gal Arel beat Beitar ’keeper Itamar Nitzan via a 57th minute penalty kick that was awarded to Haifa when David Keltjens pulled down Nes Zamir in the box.
However, the hosts found the equalizer when Gaetan Varenne headed home an Idan Vered cross 20 minutes later as each side earned a point.
Marko Balbul won his third match in a row since taking over as Maccabi Haifa’s head coach as the Greens defeated Bnei Yehuda 1-0. Nikita Rukavytsya took an Ernest Mabouka through ball in the 64th minute and put it behind Emilijus Zubas to give the Australian international his second winner in as many games.
Hapoel Tel Aviv dominated an overmatched Bnei Sakhnin 2-0 at the Moshava Stadium. The Reds took a 1-0 lead right before halftime when Caio sent a brilliant free kick to Raz Shlomo, who headed the ball into the goal.
The hosts doubled their advantage as Ramzi Sfuri put home a gorgeous through ball by Nir Lax in the 89th minute to pick up the win and three points.