Hapoel TA 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv got its first league win of the season Monday night, defeating Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan 4-1 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Tel Aviv was far from its best, but two goals in less than two first-half minutes gave the hosts an unassailable lead that effectively guaranteed all three points.
Despite scoring four goals, Hapoel was clearly fatigued, suffering from a European hangover after its first-round UEFA Cup match Thursday night.
"In the first 40 minutes of the match we were tired and looked burnt out," Hapoel captain Yossi Abuksis said after the match.
"Soccer is the only sport you can play worse than your opponent and still win. We scored from two set-pieces in the first half, and hopefully in our next match we can also play well and win the game."
The hosts took advantage of the naive Hakoach defense and in the second half practically scored at will.
Newly promoted Hakoach will have to console itself with its good form and with the knowledge that it played just as well, if not better, than Tel Aviv.
"We were excellent until the 70th minute, and we created chances but we couldn't convert them," Hakoach coach Uri Malmilian said after the match. "We played some good soccer but we lost 4-1. I believe we will stay in the league."
Neither team could create any scoring chances in the first 30 minutes of the match, with both playing poorly on attack.
Hakoach controlled possession in the first half and should have scored in the 30th minute when Dan Roman broke clear of the Hapoel defense, but he sent his shot to the left post and squandered the opportunity.
Ten minutes later, Hapoel took the lead against the run of play.
Salim Toama's corner was back-heeled by Ivan Jolic, and defender Javier Paez, who was left all alone in the Hakoach box, completed the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.
Less than two minutes later, Tel Aviv doubled its lead. Once again the Hakoach defense couldn't deal with a Toama set piece and Elyaniv Barda poked the ball in direct from the free kick.
Six minutes after the interval, Tel Aviv got its third goal from the penalty spot. Hakoach defender Shuki Nagar pushed over Barda in the box and left the referee no option but to give the hosts a penalty.
The 36-year-old Abuksis converted the penalty with ease to give his team a comfortable three-goal cushion.
In the 57th minute of the match, Hakoach finally was rewarded for its good play.
Former Israeli international Yossi Rosen elegantly curled in a free kick from 20 meters out for a consolation goal.
Two minutes from the final whistle Walid Badir poured salt on Hakoach's wounds when he hit a powerful shot from 25 meters out that gave the goalkeeper no chance.