An Eyal Golasa moment of brilliance gave Maccabi Haifa a 1-0 victory over cross-town rival Hapoel on Monday night in a tense encounter which featured more yellow cards than shots on goal.
The first Haifa derby in the Premier League since the 2004/05 season saw numerous fouls and hard tackles, but few real scoring opportunities.
The sides combined for 10 yellow cards and one red, but there was very little other entertainment for the capacity crowd at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
The big occasion seemed to take its toll, especially on Hapoel which entered the match on the back of two straight victories but never even came close to scoring on Monday, not to mention winning.
Despite also playing far from its best, Maccabi needed no more than one accurate shot by Golasa to clinch its 14th victory in 15 league matches.
"It's not easy to end the first round of matches with 42 points," Maccabi coach Elisha Levy said.
"We knew this would be a tough match. I wasn't surprised by the way the game developed, but we clearly could have played better."
Hapoel coach Shlomi Dora was disappointed with the defeat.
"We failed to attack, but you must remember who we were facing," he said. "It is a shame we conceded a silly goal. We could have ended the match in a draw."
Hapoel's players pressured Maccabi at the start, but when they eventually got hold of the ball they didn't really know what to do with it. The hosts created little to nothing and seemed more than content with keeping the Greens at bay.
Maccabi dominated the possession, but struggled to break down Hapoel's defense and created very few chances in the first half.
Countless fouls by both teams meant the match rarely flowed, but one superb strike by Golasa ensured the visitors were ahead at the break.
In the 32nd minute, Maccabi broke forward after another Hapoel turnover in the center of the field and Golasa struck the ball beautifully from just inside the box, giving goalkeeper Galil Ben-Shaanan no chance.
Maccabi had little trouble holding on to its lead until the interval and at the start of the second half finally managed to create chances on a regular basis.
In the 56th minute, Shlomi Arbeitman's header was collected by a well-placed Ben-Shaanan, with the prolific striker going close with his head once more six minutes later, sending the ball just wide of goal.
The Greens did very little on the field after that, but with Hapoel so poor it was of no importance. Any lingering hopes the hosts may have had of ending the match with a point ended when Yossi Dora was sent off in stoppage time and Maccabi cruised to the derby victory.
On Tuesday, Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Hapoel Acre in a match postponed from December 12 because of a waterlogged pitch at Nazareth's Green Stadium.
Hapoel announced on Monday that striker Samuel Yeboah will transfer to Belgian club K.R.C. Genk in January. The 23-year-old Ghanaian has scored just two league goals so far this season and will move to Genk for an estimated 700,000 euros.
"Hapoel gave me the chance to prove myself in Europe and I must thank the club and its fans for supporting me during some difficult periods," Yeboah said.
On TV: Maccabi Ahi Nazareth vs Hapoel Tel Aviv (live at 8 p.m. on Sport1)