In a marquee Premier League duel in the Israeli capital, Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv played to a pulsating 2-2 draw as Eran Zahavi scored a brace for a 10-man yellow-and-blue to earn a split of the points at Teddy Stadium.
In front of over 25,000 fans, Maccabi controlled the pace of play out of the gate, but Derrick Luckassen yanked down Danilo Asprilla as he was on his way to the goal and was issued a red card. Beitar’s Yarden Shua then slotted home the ensuing penalty to take a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute along with a man to the good for the balance of the game.
However, just ahead of the break, Maccabi’s Oscar Glouch made a couple of fantastic moves which led to Zahavi’s first goal of the match to knot up the score at 1-1.
With the Jerusalem faithful spiriting Yossi Abukasis’s squad on, Danilo Asprilla headed a Shua ball to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage in the 61st minute.
But Zahavi would have the last word on this night as Andre Geraldes whipped in a perfect cross off the right wing that met the superstar’s head as he nodded the ball into the Beitar goal to draw Maccabi even at 2-2 as each side took home a point.
“On one hand, to take a point against Maccabi Tel Aviv is good considering the players that they have,” Abukasis began. “This is the first time that we earned a point against one of the big teams, but I am disappointed that we didn’t play patiently after Luckassen was sent off.”
“It’s not easy to play 70 minutes with just 10 men,” Maccabi coach Aitor Karanka noted. “The guys were great in a game that was not simple. I am proud of their performance. I want to acknowledge the big crowd that was here and without them we would not have been able to earn a point.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Haifa just got by Hapoel Jerusalem 2-1 in a tough game by Carmel Mountain.
The Greens got off to a quick start as Abdoulaya Seck nodded home an Omer Atzily corner kick to give the hosts an early lead just minutes after the opening whistle, but a Guy Badash penalty in the 15th minute knotted the game up at 1-1.
However, it didn’t take for Atzily to find himself in front of a wide-open goal and slot home the go-ahead marker in the 18th minute.
Despite chance after chance by the capital city Reds, Haifa ’keeper Roie Mishpati was up to the task as he was able to keep the score as is for the balance of the game as Barak Bachar’s team took the three points.
“We need to come in and play properly at home,” a disturbed Bachar began. “It’s hard to sum up this game as our play was very disappointing and we need to improve, this can’t continue. It can’t be that our ’keeper bailing us out with one save after another, we can’t rely on that, especially at home and especially when we are in the lead. We will need to sit down and take a good look at things.”
“We deserved more than a point in this game,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said. “I’m not interested in kudos for our performance. As we have done against the bigger teams, we played well on the attack but were a bit soft on defense. We played true soccer and despite giving up an early goal we came back, but then conceded immediately after that.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Netanya slipped by Hapoel Haifa 1-0 as Liran Rotman pounced on a 14th-minute rebound and slotted home for the lone goal of the game that handed the diamond city side the three points.
“It was important for us to win this game in front of our home crowd,” Netanya coach Ron Kozuk began. “I believe that we are in the midst of a good run along with positive results that has influenced our confidence. It was crucial for us to come into this game with the goal of taking the points and be part of the top half of the table.”
Netanya was also set to face Hapoel Beersheba late Wednesday night at Hamoshava Stadium in the Toto Cup final.
Elsewhere, Ashdod SC blanked Bnei Reineh 3-0 as three different scorers found markers as the port city side took the points.
Muhammed Knaan was yanked down in the box in the 20th minute and then slotted home the spot kick for the lead, which Naor Sabag doubled just before the break with a terrific strike to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
Roie Ben Shimon then finished off the victory in the 80th minute as he beat Bnei Reineh ’keeper Arik Yanko to secure the win.
“This game showed the faith that I have in this club,” Ashdod coach Ran Ben Shimon said. “We had some tough losses recently but we showed that we could play and things came together in this game. We controlled the pace of play, we played smart and I am very happy about that.”
At Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Ness Ziona drew 1-1 to split the points as Haim Silvas made his debut on the sidelines for the Reds.
After a goalless first half, Hapoel captain Dan Einbinder headed home the opening marker of the match in the 48th minute, but 10 minutes later Levan Kutalia found the equalizer as each side took a point.
“I’m disappointed and the result is important for us,” Silvas said following the game. “The issues we had before are the same ones now. Everyone here needs to pick it up and we need to improve as a club. The players did what they could and we are just not good enough right now.”
Also, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Hadera played to a spirited 2-2 draw up north to split the points.
Itamar Shviro opened the scoring in the 10th minute to give Nir Berkovic’s K8 squad a 1-0 lead, but Steven Alfred found the tying goal right before the break to head into halftime all knotted up at 1-1.
Saar Fadida teamed up with Alfred to then give the visitors a 2-1 lead in the 47th minute, but Ivan Bakhar finished off a nice team play by Kiryat Shmona to draw even and take a point in a barnburner of a matchup.
“We really bunged up this game,” Berkovic began. “We weren’t focused and that’s why we fell behind. But a point is important for us as the bottom of the table is very tight and now we have to wait until next week to try and take the maximum points. One moment where we lacked focus cost us.”