Yellow-and-blue dominates Tel Aviv derby

Beitar tops Hapoel for Jerusalem bragging rights • Netanya upsets leader Maccabi Haifa

MACCABI TEL AVIV midfielder Avi Rikan scored two goals and assisted on another in the yellow-and-blue’s 5-0 derby victory over Hapoel at Bloomfield. (photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)
MACCABI TEL AVIV midfielder Avi Rikan scored two goals and assisted on another in the yellow-and-blue’s 5-0 derby victory over Hapoel at Bloomfield.
(photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)

Maccabi Tel Aviv pummeled Hapoel Tel Aviv 5-0 in the big Israel Premier League derby on Monday night as Djordje Jovanovic and Avi Rikan scored second-half braces after Hapoel midfielder Samy Elias was sent off at the end of the first half.

The yellow-and-blue is now undefeated in 22 straight derbies, dating back to April 2014 when the Reds won by a 3-1 score, while this was the third time that Maccabi had beaten Hapoel 5-0 with the last time coming during the 2016/17 season.

Both sides played tentatively over the opening 45 minutes, but the complexion of the game took a 180-degree turn when Elias spit at Enric Saborit after the Maccabi defender committed a rough foul on the midfielder, which resulted in his sending off.

It was all yellow-and-blue from that point on as Stipe Perica raced down the right flank and sent Jovanovic a terrific cross that the latter put behind ’keeper Bohdan Sarnavskyi to take a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute.

Rikan doubled the advantage a quarter-hour later when his corner kick was fumbled by Sarnavskyi and went into the goal.

Just minutes later, Rikan added his second marker of the game as he blasted the ball past a helpless Sarnavskyi from the middle of the box, while Jovanovic completed his brace when he took a beautiful Rikan pass and chipped it over the Hapoel ’keeper for a 4-0 lead.

Perica polished off the goal scoring spree with a perfectly placed header to hand Maccabi head coach Mladen Krstajic a dominant derby demolition.

“It was a brilliant game and a brilliant win,” Krsatjic said. “It was difficult over the last few days, but the players showed character. I am happy for the fans who wanted this important win. We controlled the game from the beginning and I am satisfied, but we have to continue this way.”

Hapoel coach Kobi Refuah was quite distraught after the contest.

“I have some very hard feelings after this game,” Refuah said. “We were in this game until Shay Elias was sent off and then fell apart after the 60th minute. We will need to recover from this deviating loss. The guys did the maximum that they could.”

Rikan, who earned Man of the Match honors, also reflected on yet another derby victory.

“I haven’t played much this season, but I have had a long career and want that to continue. Games like today give me motivation. We had a tough week after losing twice to Beersheba, but we responded extremely well to take this win.”

In the capital city, meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem slipped by Hapoel Jerusalem 1-0 in their own derby as the yellow-and-back has all but ensured its survival in the top flight while the Reds will need to continue to battle over the last three matches to stave off relegation.

The Israeli Premier League match between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Jerusalem at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on April 23, 2022. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/FLASH90)The Israeli Premier League match between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Jerusalem at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on April 23, 2022. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/FLASH90)

Eloge Yao was issued a red card in the 26th minute after fouling Yarden Shua from behind, which gave Beitar a man advantage for the balance of the game.

However, it took Yossi Abukasis’s squad some time to break down the Hapoel defense, which it was finally able to in the 66th minute when Richmond Boakye nodded home an Oren Bitton cross to hand Beitar the win and the three points.

“This was a huge step to reach our goal,” Abukasis explained. “We didn’t begin the game well and it took some time to get into the swing of things. After Hapoel was given a red card we took control of the game. We have a great group of guys here and they have really helped change the outlook of the club.”

“This has been the story of our season,” Hapoel coach Ziv Arie said after the match. “We had some chances at the start of the game and we were the better team, but then we made a mistake that cost us. We will continue on and we are still above the relegation zone. Our goal is to win the last three games.”

Elsewhere, Maccabi Netanya stunned Maccabi Haifa 3-0 as Igor Zlatanovic recorded a brace and added an assist to hand the diamond city squad the win.

The Greens came into the league matchup looking to extend their lead atop the table after having advanced to the Israel State Cup final with a 2-0 win over Hapoel Haifa last week.

But Netanya was having none of that as Patrick Twumasi opened the scoring off a Zalatnovic through-ball to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.

Things went from bad to worse for Barak Bachar’s charges as Zlatanovic headed in a Twumasi corner kick to give Benny Lam’s squad a 2-0 lead just ahead of the break. Zlatanovic added another goal in the 61st minute to send Haifa back home empty handed.

“Haifa didn’t have one chance in this game,” Lam noted after the win. “This was a big game for us and it wasn’t a surprise as I believed that we could do it. I told the players whoever doesn’t believe that we can win shouldn’t play. We deserved the win.”

Up in the Galilee, Hapoel Beersheba couldn’t take advantage of Haifa’s loss as the Southern Reds drew 1-1 at Bnei Sakhnin.

Guy Melamed scored off a missed penalty by Beram Kayal in the first half to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, but Dor Micha scored from in close to earn a split of the points.

Hapoel Nof Hagalil shocked Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-0 as both teams are in a tight relegation battle at the bottom of the table.

Guti headed in the first goal of the game off a corner kick in the 16th minute while David Tweet scored from 22 meters out to give the Shay Barda’s squad a 2-0 lead by the break.

Luwagga Kizito and Abdalla Halaihal scored in the second half to give the visitors the win to keep their hopes alive to avoid relegation.

“I never dreamed that we would have a result like this,” Barda said following the game. “I am asked why I am so optimistic and that is because I feel and see my players and I know what they are capable of doing. I believe in this club and there is something special here.”

Also, Ironi Kiryat Shmona ran all over Hapoel Haifa 4-0 as Mohammed Shaker scored a brace for the northerners in the win.

The hosts came out flying with trio of goals in the first 15 minutes of the game as Itamar Shviro headed in the opener, Shaker added the second off an error by the Haifa defense while Samuel Baron scored from 16 meters out to give Slobodan Drapic’s crew a 3-0 lead.

Shaker ended the first half with a scorcher of a strike to take a 4-0 advantage by the break to take an impressive victory over the State Cup semifinalist.

“The guys have come to practice with a smile on their face and they work hard,” Drapic said. “They came into the game and played serious football which I hope will continue for another three matches. The recipe to win is to be happy with one another all the way until the end.”

Finally, Ashdod SC got by Hapoel Hadera 3-2 in an entertaining game at the port city.

Mohammed Osman put visiting Hadera in front, but Yakov Brihen quickly equalized to send the game into the break all knotted up at 1-1.

Moti Barshatzky and Miran Ben quickly put the hosts up by a pair of goals as Steven Alfred was only able to cut the lead to 3-2 as Ashdod took the points.