Hapoel Tel Aviv blanked Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 on Monday night at Teddy Stadium as the Reds came into the capital city and snatched the win.
Osher Davida nodded home a corner kick by Alon Azugi in the eighth minute to give Kobi Refuah’s squad a 1-0 lead while Farley Rosa pounded a loose ball into an empty goal to double the advantage a quarter-hour into the second half to capture the three points.
“This wasn’t easy and I didn’t like some of the things we did,” Refuah said after the game. “But it was more of a tactical match that we ended up winning. I like to play attacking soccer, but we are still far from where I want to see us and we are working on it. Hapoel Tel Aviv deserves to be one of the top teams.”
Beitar coach Yossi Mizrachi spoke about the rumors surrounding his club.
“There are a lot of things swirling around the club off of the field and there is a lot of uncertainty,” said Mizrachi. “We don’t look good and we are missing so many players, so many key players who should have been leading Beitar but they are unavailable due to illness, injuries, being abroad and other reasons.”
Up north by the Carmel Mountain, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Jerusalem drew 1-1 in a game that saw each team lose a player to a red card in a thrilling second half.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the Greens’ Muhammed Abu Fani was sent off after receiving a second yellow card just seven minutes after the break, while the Reds lost Omer Agbadish as well later on in the half.
However, that didn’t stop William Agada from breaking away from a couple of defenders and racing downfield as he beat Haifa’s keeper Josh Cohen to give Ziv Arie’s squad a 1-0 lead in the 85th minute.
Barak Bachar’s team pressed for an equalizer and found it just minutes later as Godsway Donyoh’s long-distance shot was mishandled by Jerusalem’s keeper Adebayo Adeleye and found its way into the goal to see the teams split the points.
“We thought things would come together over the course of the game, but we were just able to steal a point at home,” Bachar said. “We weren’t able to bring the quality that we needed to win and this was our worst game this season. They were first to every ball and it wasn’t complacency on our part. We just didn’t get into the game.
Arie lamented his side’s chance to snatch the victory.
“We try and make this team better and better each and every day,” noted Arie. “We lost points on nonsense today and we go into every game looking to win. Every point is important and we didn’t give up. We have to stop giving up points over nonsensical things.”
At Bloomfield Stadium, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya played to an entertaining 2-2 draw to split the points.
Parfait Guiagon sent a perfect ball to Aviv Avraham, who put it by ’keeper Daniel Peretz for a 1-0 Netanya lead in the 16th minute.
Just 10 minutes later, Gaby Kanichowsky evened up the score against his former team when he finished off a nice passing play with Ofir Davidzada and Eduardo Guerrero.
Maccabi grabbed the lead right before the half when Guerrero picked off a lazy goal kick by Dani Amos to head into the break with a 2-1 lead.
However, just three minutes into the second half Zlatan Sehovic headed a corner kick that went off of Ofir Davidzada and into the back of the yellow-and-blue goal to pull even at 2-2 which earned each team a point.
“It was a difficult game and we expected it,” Maccabi coach Mladen Krstajic said. “We were unsure and lacked self-confidence in our passing game in the first half. We had to be more aggressive and will need to work on it. Set-pieces are problems due to our concentration and we had to play with more risk.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba pulled to within two points of table leader Maccabi Haifa as the Southern Reds took care of Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 on a Miguel Vitor second-half goal to give Roni Levy’s squad the three points.
“I’m always happy when we win,” explained an excited Levy following the game. “It’s always better to clean up issues while you’re winning, and this was one that showed our character after a couple of rough weeks.
We had to get back on track and this win was very important.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Haifa traveled up to Hapoel Nof Hagalil and took a 1-0 victory on a 23rd-minute goal by Hanan Maman to hand Elisha Levy’s squad the points.
“It’s been quite some time since we won,” an exuberant Levy said following the game. “We still aren’t playing the way we want to, but we played well in the first half while the second was very physical. I told the guys this is the type of game that we have to win if we want to be in the Championship playoffs.”
Also, Hapoel Hadera blanked Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-0 to take the three points.
Maxim Plakuschenko opened the scoring with a free-kick strike just outside of the box in the 16th minute, while Gustavo Marmentini added an insurance marker three minutes into the second half to give Menachem Koretzky’s squad the victory.
“This was a very important win and we keep moving away from the bottom of the table,” Koretzky said. “We had a tough time a little while back with some injuries, but this was a good showing and we have been playing very well of late. We can still play better and we are on track to having a fantastic season.”
Kiryat Shmona coach Slobodan Drapic ripped into his team. “This was one of the poorest games this season,” Drapic explained. “We didn’t know how to digest the compliments that we had received up until now. We need to learn from the game and prepare ourselves properly for our next match against Bnei Sakhnin in eight days.”
Ashdod SC needed a last-gasp effort to just slip by Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 as Yakov Brihen scored a brilliant goal in the 92nd minute to give the port city side the three points.