Maccabi Tel Aviv routs Hapoel Kfar Saba

Second-place Maccabi Haifa keeps pressure on yellow-and-blue ahead of showdown • Jerusalem triumphs

GIZACHO GADI KINDA does a flip in celebration of his scoring a 19th-minute tally for Beitar Jerusalem last night in its 4-1 road victory over Hapoel Haifa. (photo credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)
GIZACHO GADI KINDA does a flip in celebration of his scoring a 19th-minute tally for Beitar Jerusalem last night in its 4-1 road victory over Hapoel Haifa.
(photo credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv thumped Hapoel Kfar Saba 4-0 in driving rain at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv over the weekend in Israel Premier League Round 16 action.
Itay Shechter opened the scoring for the yellow-and-blue with a 19th-minute goal as Omer Atzili continued his fine play after returning from injury to assist on the first marker of the game.
Vladimir Ivic’s squad doubled its lead 10 minutes into the second half as a red-hot Yonatan Cohen fed Atzili the ball, with the latter beating Kfar Saba’s Igal Becker for his first strike of the contest.
Mahmoud Yousef was issued a red card for a reckless tackle on Dan Glazer in the 60th minute, a penalty that left the visitors with 10 men for the balance of the match. Cohen then added a goal to his second assist in the 68th minute to give the defending champion a three-goal lead, before Chico Ofoedu, who came on as a substitute, found the back of the net to complete the rout.
“I know what my club can do,” said Ivic following the game. “We played well in the second half and created many chances. We controlled the pace of play and, although it was tough to play in the inclement weather, we were able to take the victory.”
Cohen also spoke about the win.
“We had some ups and downs, but I am happy that we won once again and that we can turn our attention to the next match,” said the 23-year-old forward. “I’m happy that as a team we are getting more and more chances on goal.”
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa dropped Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-1 at the northern capital to keep the Greens three points behind first-place Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of their showdown at Sammy Ofer Stadium next week.
Yuval Ashkenazi gave Marko Balbul’s side a 1-0 lead as he headed home Haifa’s first goal off an Ernest Mabouka cross in the 26th minute. Nikita Rukavytsya continued his scoring spree with a needed 92nd-minute insurance strike as the hosts pulled to within a goal on a tally by Abdallah Hachliel two minutes later.
However, it was ultimately a case of too little, too late for Kobi Refuah’s Kiryat Shomna team.
“We played well for the majority of the match and we had many quality opportunities while our defense played an excellent football,” said a content Balbul. “We won at a difficult stadium against a team that came into the game with positive momentum after three wins. This was a super important victory for us.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba stormed back to score two late goals and defeat Ashdod SC 2-1 to take all of the points at Toto Turner Stadium.
Hamoudi Kna’an gave visiting Ashdod a 1-0 advantage in the 14th minute, with Shlomi Azulay assisting on the opening strike. However, Roy Zrihen put the ball behind Ashdod ’keeper Roei Mishpati in the 79th minute while an own-goal nine minutes later by Gil Cohen gave Beersheba the lead and the eventual victory.
“Playing at Turner is very powerful for us, especially today when we were in a deficit situation,” explained winning coach Barak Bachar. “We deserved to win and we made a great comeback. We showed a lot of character in our third win in a row across all competitions.”
Also, Hapoel Ra’anana and Hapoel Hadera drew 1-1 at the Moshava Stadium. Yoav Tomer nodded in a Yarden Cohen cross in the seventh minute to give the hosts a quick lead, but Mohammed Abu Fani beat Ra’anana ’keeper Asaf Tzur in the 46th minute as two teams each earned a point for their efforts.
Bnei Yehuda blasted Maccabi Netanya 3-0 at the Netanya Stadium as Yossi Abuksis’s squad got back onto the winning track in fashion.
Dan Mori opened the scoring with a header to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute, while Ariel Lazmi doubled the advantage right before the break via an Amit Zenati assist.
Zenati himself also found the back of the goal in the 86th minute thanks to an Avishay Cohen helper to wrap up the victory and take home the three points.
“Anything is possible in soccer and you can’t guarantee a positive result after a number of poor ones,” explained Abuksis. “There’s no guarantee that you can get out of a crisis and the only way you can do so is to just play well.”
On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv slipped by Ness Ziona 1-0 as Eyad Abu Abaid scored the lone goal of the contest in the 33rd minute and Reds ’keeper Arik Yanko recorded a clean sheet to give Nir Klinger’s squad the win and the three points.
“The players are giving their heart and soul,” said an emotional Klinger. “I’m happy that we win and this will give the squad confidence. It’s an important victory, but it doesn’t guarantee us anything as this is a tough league.”
The final game of the round between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa at Sammy Ofer Stadium on Monday night saw the yellow-and-black score three first-half goals on the road en route to a 4-1 conquest. The victory gave Jerusalem sole possession of third place.