Maccabi tops Hapoel at first Bloomfield derby

The defending champs doubled their lead in the 88th minute when Itay Shechter was pulled down in the box by Orel Degani and Cohen slotted home the spot kick from 11 meters.

Maccabi painted the city of Tel Aviv yellow-and-blue as they defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 in the first derby at the new Bloomfield Stadium. Avi Rikan scored in the first half to give Vladimir Ivic’s side the early lead while Yonatan Cohen via a penalty and Eylon Almog added late markers to wrap up the victory.
Omer Atzily was instrumental in getting the yellow-and-blue rolling as he assisted on Rikan’s strike that beat Reds keeper Yoav Gerafi in the 15th minute to hand Maccabi the 1-0 advantage. The defending champs doubled their lead in the 88th minute when Itay Shechter was pulled down in the box by Orel Degani and Cohen slotted home the spot kick from 11 meters. Maccabi then played tic-tac-toe between Shechter, Dor Micha and Almog as the latter, who had come on as a substitute just a few minutes earlier, added the third goal deep into injury time to give the yellow-and-blue the prestigious victory.
“It was a big result and three points,” said Ivic. “For sure we could have played much better. This result may not have been realistic but we were the better team.”
Cohen was excited about the Derby win, “I’ve always dreamed of scoring in the Derby. There are no easy Derby games, they are always more aggressive and there are more fights over the ball but we won convincingly, we’ll take the three points and move on.”
Also, Maccabi Haifa and Ashdod played to a dramatic 3-3 draw at Samy Ofer Stadium. The Greens needed a late Ofir Arad header to salvage a point at home as the young central defender leaped highest in the area to put home a last ditch free kick. Dean David opened the scoring in the 40th minute when he put home a ball in the box to beat keeper Josh Cohen, but Yanic Wildschut found the equalizer just two minutes into the second half.
Marko Balbul’s Greens took the lead in the 57th minute when Yuval Ashkenazi sent a rocket into the far corner of the goal thanks to an assist by Dolev Haziza, but Ashdod came right back thanks to a Shlomi Azulay penalty. However, the port city side didn’t rest on its laurels and took the lead via a give and go between Samuel Alabi and Sagiv Yehezkel as the former put the ball behind Cohen for a 3-2 lead. But the advantage didn’t last long as Ofir Arad scored the 92nd-minute goal to split the points.
“We’re very disappointed with the poor result, especially at home,” a dejected Balbul said after the clash. “We had to win this game especially when we took a 2-1 lead but we couldn’t hold on defensively. It’s really disappointing.”
MEANWHILE, HAPOEL Beersheba defeated Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 at the Moshava Stadium as Ben Sahar cleaned up a Nigel Hasselbaink rebound to give Barak Bachar’s squad the three points. Beersheba will now ready themselves for Monday night’s clash with Maccabi Haifa.
“We had a lot of pressure on us coming into the game and there was no way to hide it,” explained Bachar. “I’m happy that we won and we could have even scored more goals in the first half and close out the contest much earlier.”
Goal scorer Ben Sahar also spoke about the importance of the win, “The three points is exactly what we needed right now because we had such a tough loss a few days ago. I’m happy that we were able to lift ourselves up and record the victory.”
In other action, Bnei Yehuda needed an 89th-minute penalty by Dor Jan to salvage a point against Hapoel Ra’anana in a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Stadium. Menachem Koretzky’s Ra’anana side took the lead in the 28th minute against the run of play when Yoav Tomer sent the ball to Eugene Ansah who beat Emilias Zoubas for a 1-0 advantage.
Just as it looked like the visitors would take all three points, Avishay Cohen’s cross into the box was handled by Yarden Cohen giving Yossi Abuksis’s squad a lifeline as Jan took a perfect spot kick to split the points. Ra’anana hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba while Bnei Yehuda visits Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.
“If you are expecting that you are going to see Barcelona or Real Madrid, then you have to bring down those expectations,” following the game. “We had an excellent half hour but the Ra’anana keeper Asaf Tzur made a couple of great saves as we controlled the pace of play throughout the contest.”
A disappointed Koretzky also looked back at the game that was. “We let the game get away and that was really too bad. The players wanted this game but we kept going backwards as Bnei Yehuda pressed us, however, they didn’t get many quality chances.”
As well, Beitar Jerusalem got by Hapoel Hadera 2-0 as Gadi Kinda and Shlomi Azulay both found the back of the goal in the first half. In fact, each player assisted on the others goal to give the capital city side maximum points ahead of Sunday’s contest at Ashdod.
“I’m happy that we won, but not form the quality of our play,” explained Beitar coach Roni Levy. “We were missing a lot and this team has a lot to improve upon in all aspects.
Maccabi Netanya slipped by Kiryat Shmona 1-0 thanks to a 26th minute penalty by Fatos Beciraj as the diamond city side snatched all three points in the victory. On Saturday, Maccabi Netanya travels to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shmona hosts Setzkia Ness Tziona.
Hapoel Haifa slipped by Setzia Ness Tziona 2-1 as the visiting Carmel squad scored a pair of penalties by Gal Arel and Eden Ben Basat in the 97th minute to cancel out Raz Stain’s ninth minute marker as Haim Silvas’ side took all three points.