Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv has suffered another killer blow, losing out 1-0 to a spirited Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Saturday afternoon's televised league fixture. Tel Aviv is now deep in the relegation zone with only one league point to its credit.
Ran Ben-Shimon's side showed no signs of inferiority and outplayed the Tel Aviv giants on route to a dramatic win. Nir Levin's Tel Aviv is still without a win this season and the pressure is mounting at Kiryat Shalom.
"This team is not in its optimal condition," Levin explained after the disappointing loss. "We have many injured players who are working their way back to fitness and it's going to take some time for this team to gel."
Betar Jerusalem will be in action in Sunday night's televised fixture, as it takes on Alon Hazan's Ashdod SC at the Teddy stadium. The Dolphins are hoping to bounce back from last week's 1-6 loss to Maccabi Netanya.
Yellow-and-black coach Yitzhak Shum is planning a few changes in his starting eleven, following last week's 2-2 draw with Bnei Sakhnin. Veteran midfielder Idan Tal is in risk of losing his place to youngster Aviram Bruchian.
Hapoel Tel Aviv plays Maccabi Herzliya on Monday evening, in the final fixture of Game Day 5.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1, Mac Tel Aviv 0
With around 2,000 supporters in the stands, Ben-Shimon's side opened the game with several relentless attacks. Former Tel Aviv star Guy Tzarfati dominated the midfield and created chances for his teammates.
But the hosts suffered a big blow in the 35th minute, when Yero Bello snuffed out a Tel Aviv counter attack with a brutal foul on Ori Shitrit. Referee Shai Shitrit showed the Nigerian forward the red card, leaving Kiryat Shmona with 10 men.
Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin introduced Avi Nimni in the 59th minute, hoping to bolster his attack and take advantage of the situation. But the influential captain was sent off just a minute later after striking Emmanuel Emangoa.
Kiryat Shmona stepped up the pressure and struck gold in the 62nd minute. Emangoa made a crucial intervention in midfield and put Yuval Avidor through on goal. The youngster kept his cool in front of goal and netted the impressive winner.
Maccabi Haifa 2, Hapoel Kfar Saba 1
Haifa has opened its post-Adoram Keisi era in style. The veteran leftback announced his retirement just days after being released by the club, but Roni Levy's players showed no signs of slowing down.
The hosts piled up the pressure on the visitors goal and found the breakthrough in the 7th minute. Brazilian midfielder Renato did the damage with a slick strike from inside the box, following a mix-up in the visitor's rearguard.
Kfar Saba's sloppy defense was punished again in the first half. Renato made a brave tackle on the left flank and crossed the ball into the box. Giovanni Rosso slipped past his marker and provided the header to make it 2-0 in the 37th minute.
Kfar Saba was awarded a penalty in the 56th minute after Guillermo Israilevich was fouled in the box. Ori Ozan's spot-kick was blocked by Nir Davidovich, but Julius Agbor jabbed in what turned out to be no more than a consolation goal.
Avihai Yadin was sent off in the 73rd minute and Haifa substitute Maor Melikson followed suite in the 82nd minute after an unsporting foul on Ozan.
Mac Netanya 1, Mac Petah Tikva 0
Reuven Atar's team made a perfect start to the game at "The Box", scoring the game's only goal in the 9th minute. The ball was played into Petah Tikva's box and Ismael Amar scored a miserable own goal.
The yellows kept coming ahead, but suffered a huge blow in the 41st minute. Itai Shekhter, Netanya's flamboyant forward, received his second yellow card after carelessly handling the ball.
"We wanted to win at any price and that's what we did today," Atar said in a post-game interview. "It was a very solid performance by my players. We played against a very talented and well-trained team, but we deserved the win."
Bnei Yehuda 3, Bnei Sakhnin 0
Bnei Yehuda thrashed Bnei Sakhnin by a solid 3-0 margin at the Bloomfield stadium. Moshe Biton opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a brilliant bicycle kick.
Asi Baldut doubled the host's lead in the 54th minute with a well-taken penalty and Jose Duarte put the icing on the cake 10 minutes later.