Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Tal Ben-Haim (left) chips Maccabi Netanya goalkeeper Barak Levy to score his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-1 win at Bloomfield Stadium. .
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv climbed back to the top of the Premier League standings with a 2-1 win over Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday night, but coach Slavisa Jokanovic didn’t mince words when asked to assess another disappointing display by his team.
“We played a shit game today,” was how Jokanovic put it before complaining that his team should have been given another day of rest after facing Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Despite Jokanovic’s protests and Maccabi’s poor showing, the three-time reigning champion claimed its fifth win from the past six league matches to leapfrog Hapoel Beersheba for at least 48 hours.
Beersheba can return to first place with a win over Hapoel Haifa on Monday.
Maccabi was gifted the opener after just four minutes, with referee Menashe Mashiah awarding the hosts a dubious penalty which Eran Zahavi duly converted for his ninth goal in 10 league matches.
Netanya, being guided by assistant coach Guy Tzarfati following the sacking of Shlomi Dora, had its chances to equalize, but the visitors were wasteful and Tal Ben-Haim made it 2-0 in the 69th minute. Andriy Mischenko scored for Netanya in stoppage time, but it was of little consolation for the visitors, who were watched from the stands by new coach Reuven Atar.
New Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Guy Levy celebrated in the stands after his new team claimed a 1-0 win over Hapoel Ra’anana thanks to Adi Gotlieb’s winner four minutes into stoppage time.
Assistant coach Walid Badir was guiding Tel Aviv for the last time, and despite another poor showing by the team, he will at least return to his previous role on a winning note after Ra’anana’s substitute goalkeeper Omri Glazer hastily came out for Moshe Ohayon’s free kick and allowed Gotlieb to head in the only goal of the match.
“We have been through a tough month,” said Badir, with Hapoel losing its previous three matches. “The players didn’t have a great match, but they gave their all and I’m proud of them.”
There was also a dramatic finish at Doha Stadium where Ali Osman’s equalizer in the 92nd minute gave Bnei Sakhnin a 2-2 draw against Bnei Yehuda. Jude Nworuh’s brace (6, 16) sandwiched Weeam Amasha’s (10) initial equalizer and Bnei Yehuda looked to be on course for a third win in its past four matches. However, Osman’s shot from 25 meters out benefited from a fortuitous deflection off Aviv Hadad’s head to give Sakhnin a share of the spoils.
Maccabi Petah Tikva’s slide down the standings continued on Saturday following a fifth defeat in six games. Petah Tikva led the standings for the first month of the campaign after winning its first four matches, but has gone winless in six contests since. Zion Zemah gave Hapoel Acre a 1-0 victory over Petah Tikva on Saturday.
Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona extended its league best unbeaten streak to nine matches, drawing 0-0 at Hapoel Kfar Saba to move up to third place. Kiryat Shmona hasn’t lost since falling 3-1 to Hapoel Beersheba in their opener, but has won only three of the subsequent nine games, drawing six times.
On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem looks to remain in touch with the top two when it visits Maccabi Haifa, which returned to the relegation zone following Saturday’s results.