soccer ball 88.
(photo credit: )
Three red cards, two goals and one pitch invasion by a half-naked girl were the order of the day Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium, where Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Bnei Sakhnin 2-0.
The Premier League match threatened to boil over in the first half when Eyal Berkovic and Abas Suan exchanged blows and profanities, and almost set off a mass brawl between both sets of players.
The game eventually cooled down, and both players were justifiably shown red cards.
At the start of the second half, a woman decided to protest against what she claimed was copyright theft from screenwriters by the HOT cable television consortium and ran onto the field half-naked.
The three points keep Tel Aviv's hopes of European qualification alive with the yellow-and-blue only six points away from second place in the standings.
The loss put a dent in Sakhnin's relegation fight and coach Lofa Kadosh will need to regroup his team ahead of the difficult task of survival.
Both teams were slow to start the match and the fans had to wait until the 17th minute for the first chance of the game.
Avi Nimni attempted to chip Meir Cohen, but the Sakhnin 'keeper was up to the task and saved. Maccabi midfielder Liran Cohen was first to the rebound and found Jose Duarte with a pass, but Cohen came to Sakhnin's rescue once more and cleared the ball.
The highlight of the first half came in the 22nd minute when Berkovic and Suan were sent off by the referee. Suan began the incident when he dangerously tackled Berkovic. The former Israeli international retaliated immediately and the two came to blows and got red-carded.
Maccabi dealt with the sending off better than Sakhnin and came close to taking the lead several times.
Five minutes from halftime, Erez Mesika had Maccabi's best chance when he found space outside the Sakhnin box, but his deflected shot sailed just over the crossbar.
On the stroke of halftime Sakhnin found itself two men down. Haled Halayla was wrongly judged by the referee to have tripped Nimni and he received his second yellow card of the match and was sent off.
Maccabi was eager to take advantage of its extra man and pushed forward right from the start of the second half.
Eight minutes into the period, the yellow-and-blue finally took the lead.
Striker Ophir Haim's shot was well saved by 'keeper Cohen, but Maccabi savior Nimni was at the right place at the right time and easily tucked the ball in.
Sakhnin rarely tested Maccabi 'keeper Liran Strauber, but it had a chance to equalize in the 79th minute when Shadi Zvideat took advantage of a Tel Aviv turnover but failed to locate free striker Pascal Kondofoni and hit a wayward pass.
Maccabi finally doubled its lead eight minutes from the end. Nimni threaded a pass throw to Yuval Spongin, who easily tucked the ball under the Sakhnin 'keeper.
Also Sunday, Maccabi's crosstown rival Hapoel Tel Aviv was accused by West Ham United managing director Paul Aldridge of illegally approaching the team's Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun. Aldridge threatened to file a complaint with world soccer governing body FIFA. Hapoel denied any wrongdoing and said that it had not approached or contacted Benayoun.
Ohana replaces Levy at Kfar Saba
Former Betar Jerusalem player and coach Eli Ohana was appointed as the new coach of Hapoel Kfar Saba.
"After taking a few months off I've decided to return to coaching," Ohana said to the 103FM radio station. "I want to return to do what I'm best at and that's coaching. I hope that Kfar Saba begins a new era tomorrow morning and that the team will start a good run of results. It's a huge challenge."
Ohana replaces Elisha Levy, who was fired by owner Eli Tabib earlier in the day.
Kfar Saba is at the bottom of the Premier League standings with only two victories in 19 matches this season. Ohana's new team is eight points from safety and the odds are against the Betar legend saving his team from relegation.
Ohana resigned from Betar in September, after club owner Arkadi Gaydamak criticized him in a newspaper interview.
Kfar Saba will be Ohana's fourth coaching position after previously coaching Bnei Yehuda (twice), Maccabi Petah Tikva and Betar.