Severe scoring shortage in Tel Aviv and Haifa

Mac TA and Bnei Yehuda notch weekend’s 2nd goalless derby draw • Beitar falls to Ra’anana

ISRAEL FORWARD Eran Zahavi takes part in a national team training session yesterday ahead of the blue-and-white’s Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday against North Macedonia (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
ISRAEL FORWARD Eran Zahavi takes part in a national team training session yesterday ahead of the blue-and-white’s Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday against North Macedonia
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A pair of highly anticipated derbies fizzled out over the weekend in Israel Premier League action, as Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda played to a goalless draw at the new Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night following Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Haifa’s 0-0 result at Sammy Ofer Stadium on Saturday.
Defending-champion Maccabi Tel Aviv played its first home game at its renovated facility, with over 26,000 spectators on hand, but could only muster a point against Bnei Yehuda in dry affair that ended without a tally. Yellow-and-blue midfielder Dor Peretz was given his marching orders and was sent off near the end of the first half after having been issued a pair of yellow cards, changing the complexion of the contest as Maccabi coach Vladimir Ivic was satisfied with splitting the points with counterpart Yossi Abuksis.
“It’s a different season, the struggles will be different,” said Ivic. “We knew [a setback] would happen and we saw it in Europe. Last year things came easily without much effort, this season we will have to give a lot more than we have, as we saw today.”
Meanwhile, the Haifa Reds hosted the Greens in the Carmel in front of 20,000 fans, but neither side could break the deadlock as the majority of the contest was played in the midfield with very few chances created by either team.
Tjaronn Chery, Marko Balbul’s new midfielder who had lit up the pitch last week against Hapoel Ra’anana, had trouble all match and was stymied by Haim Silvas’s stingy defense.
Elsewhere, Upstart Hapoel Ra’anana surprised Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 on Sunday night at the Moshava Stadium.
Menachem Koretzky’s squad scored first as speedy striker Eugene Ansah took advantage of a poor clearance by new black-and-yellow central defender Diogo Verdasca and beat a helpless Itamar Nitzan for a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
However, the visiting Beitar fans pushed their team forward as Gadi Kinda found the equalizer in the 59th minute off a nifty flick pass by Shlomi Azoulay. But less than 10 minutes later Ra’anana midfielder Amit Cohen came streaking down the left side and put the ball past Nitzan to take the three points and send the host supporters home happy ahead of the international break.
“I thought we would have more points at this stage,” said Koretzky. “It’s too bad we lost points to Haifa last week. We made a mental switch ahead of the Beitar game and we have a very good team that is getting into shape and that can compete with anyone.”
Beitar’s coach Roni Levy was less than impressed with his side’s effort.
“We played very poorly and this is a huge disappointment,” said Levy. “This was our worst outing of the season, including all of our preseason matches and Toto Cup games, and unfortunately this had to occur in league play. We have only where to improve after this horrendous match.”
Also, Maccabi Netanya easily got by Ness Ziona 3-0 as Gaby Kanichowsky played masterfully with three assists for Slobodan Drapic and Shai Barda’s side.
The Diamond City side got off to a quick start as Fatos Beciraj scored via a through ball by Kanichowsky in the third minute. Netanya doubled its lead when Kanichowsky found Roie Kehat free in the area as the latter nodded home the second goal.
Beciraj recorded a brace in the 64th minute when he beat Ness Ziona ’keeper Omri Glazer with yet another fantastic Kanichowsky through-ball to wrap up a tidy triumph.
“In my opinion Gaby will be a leading player on the national team for years to come,” said Barda following the contest. “Give him some more time, but this is a player who continues to develop and my hopes for him are very high.”
In other action, Hapoel Beersheba easily disposed of Hapoel Hadera 3-0 at Turner Stadium down south.
After being eliminated from Europa League play last week against Feyenoord, Barak Bachar’s charges came out clicking on all cylinders. Oren Bitton sent a nice cross from the left side to Nigel Hasselbaink, who just had to slot the ball home for a 1-0 lead five minutes before the break.
Bitton once again was involved in the second Beersheba marker as his corner kick was headed in by Hadera defender Jonathan Cisse, charged with an own-goal in the 72nd minute. Three minutes later, Jimmy Marin scored off yet another assist by the red-hot Bitton as the Southern Reds comfortable took the victory.
“Oren Bitton had a fantastic offensive display,” said an exuberant Bachar. “He took advantage of the opportunity that he was given and showed his qualities in the best possible fashion.”
In a surprising result, Ashdod SC beat struggling Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-1 at the Yud Alef Stadium. Nir Bardea opened the scoring for the Port City squad in the 56th minute when he headed home the ball off a corner kick to beat Reds ’keeper Yoav Gerafi.
Maor Buzaglo found the equalizer less than 15 minutes later when he put a fabulous ball into the far corner. However, Niso Avitan side’s problems continued when Dean David put the ball into the back of the Tel Aviv goal in the 82nd minute to give Ashdod the three points.
Hapoel Kfar Saba beat host Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3-1 on Monday night to close out the Round 2 slate.