Hapoel Tel Aviv celebrates 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s stranglehold over the Tel Aviv derby remains as strong as ever
after the Reds beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-1 at Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night
to climb back to the top of the Premier League standings.
hoping to break out of its current slump in a big way against Hapoel, but
instead the yellow-andblue suffered a third straight defeat and its blinding
start to the season is now looking like a distant memory after winning just once
in its last seven matches.
Hapoel has been far from consistent itself,
but it has raised its game when needed and recorded a deserved victory on
Mario Pecalka’s header (38) and Elroei Cohen’s strike (45) right
before halftime meant Maccabi was all but beaten by the break, and although
Barak Itzhaki managed to get a goal back for the hosts following Gal Shish’s
sending off, Hapoel held strong and secured the win through Shay Abutbul’s goal
in stoppage time.
Sunday’s victory extends Hapoel’s unbeaten streak in
league derbies to 10 matches, with Maccabi not beating its arch-rival since
“We made sure Tel Aviv remained red and that is all that
matters,” said goal-scorer Cohen. “We showed a lot of character and we deserved
Maccabi now finds itself seven points back of Hapoel, but
coach Moti Ivanir refuses to be dragged down by yet another defeat.
still want to be among the top teams,” he said. “We never said we are aiming to
win the championship.
We just want to get back on the right track. These
are tough times, but we need to overcome them.”
The 135th Tel Aviv derby
got off to a nervy start, with both teams largely inaccurate in the opening
However, both sides had their chances to make an early
breakthrough, most notably Maccabi striker Eliran Atar.
After just four
minutes, Atar should have made Hapoel pay for defender Iyad Khutaba’s mistake,
but his shot was not good enough to get the better of ’keeper Apoula
Eleven minutes later, Atar had already rounded Edel, but Khutaba
was on the line to clear the striker’s shot and make up for his earlier
After soaking up the early pressure, Hapoel was content on
sitting back and hitting Maccabi on the break and its patience was rewarded in
the 38th minute.
After a couple of close calls, it was defender Pecalka,
of all people, who scored Hapoel’s opener, heading in Roei Gordana’s free
The goal shattered the confidence of the frail Maccabi and Hapoel
doubled its lead with the final kick of the first half.
crossed the ball from the left and Cohen patiently took his time before shaking
both Moussa Konate and goalkeeper Barak Levy to slot in his second goal of the
It was clear Maccabi would throw everything it had at Hapoel at
the start of the second half and Roberto Colautti came close in the 50th minute
when his attempt was only blocked by some desperate Hapoel
Four minutes later, Omer Damari could have clinched the
victory for Hapoel, but he uncharacteristically fluffed his shot from five
Maccabi was thrown a lifeline in the 65th minute when
defender Shish was sent off after foolishly making an obscene gesture towards
The hosts piled the pressure on Hapoel and 10 minutes after
the sending off they got back into the match.
Atar crossed the ball from
the right and much-maligned striker Itzhaki, who came on as a substitute just
nine minutes earlier, headed beyond a helpless Edel.
Maccabi sent almost
everyone forward in search of an equalizer, but Hapoel’s defending was
Colautti twice came tantalizingly close and Itzhaki almost
scored again with two minutes remaining, but it would be Hapoel which found the
back of the net again, with substitute Abutbul scoring past Levy in stoppage
time to secure the sweetest of victories for the Reds.