(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv suffered a stinging 2-0 loss to Maccabi Herzliya at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan stadium on Monday evening.
It was the second defeat of the season for Guy Luzon's star-studded side, which has yet to register a win and is now third from bottom of the Israeli Premier League.
Herzliya entered the game as clear underdogs after losing four straight games and conceding a total of 11 goals. But coach Fredi David enjoyed a mesmerizing performance by Congolese striker Said Makasi, who powered his side with a superb brace.
"We didn't play well today," Luzon said after the shock loss. "My players were not focused and failed to give Herzliya a fight. We were outplayed in all departments and I hope this doesn't happen again. I still have faith in this team."
The game was played in Ramat Gan because Tel Aviv's Bloomfield stadium is undergoing extensive renovations. Around 5,000 Tel Aviv fans made their presence felt, but didn't get the start they were hoping for.
The visitors from Herzliya came out with all guns blazing and won a corner in the fourth minute. The ball was lobbed into the box and Makasi finished it from close-range, making the most of a mix-up in the Tel Aviv defense.
Tel Aviv stepped up the pressure, but failed to impress without the injured Baruch Dego and Lior Asulin. The team was also missing Mazua Ensombo and Vincent Enyeama, with the latter serving a four-game suspension.
Herzliya stung the reds with a slick counterattack. Omer Buksenboim located Mahran Radi on the right flank, who found Makasi lurking unmarked in the box. The Congolese drilled in his second to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute.
Luzon was hoping to see an improvement in his team's performance following a stern team talk at halftime, but Herzliya refused to crumble under the pressure. Buksenboim kept controlling the tempo of the game and creating chances for his teammates.
With the fans voicing dissatisfaction with the team's performance, Tel Aviv lost its rhythm and failed to bother the Herzliya rearguard. The final minutes were played at a slow pace, with hundreds of fans heading for the exits. Herzliya's Kfir Edri was sent off in the 90th minute, but the team kept its clean sheet and went on to collect all three points.