Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Sakhnin played to a 1-1 draw over the weekend in the Israel Premier League as the visitors went a man down when Beram Kayal was issued a red card late in the first half, but were able to hang on to split the points.Guy Melamed stunned the hosts early on in the first half as the marksman put home the ball in the box to give Sakhnin a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. However, Kayal earned a straight red card with a reckless foul on Dor Peretz that would leave Sakhnin with only 10 men from the 38th minute on.Eran Zahavi took advantage of the situation when he put home an Enric Saborit ball as Maccabi drew even at 1-1 in the 53rd minute, but that would be it as the two squads each earned a point.“There were some very good and some very bad in this game,” Maccabi coach Aitor Karanka said. “I feel that there were many issues as to how we came into this game and we made a number of mistakes. We need to change our mentality and our passion. I’m not concerned about the points but the way or our opponents, I’m only concerned about our performance.”“I’ve got to congratulate the guys,” Sakhnin coach Kobi Refuah began. “To have to play with 10 men at Bloomfield with all of the atmosphere and the fans, only someone who has been there can explain it. Maccabi had maybe a chance and a half all game long and I’ve got to tip my hat to the staff.”
Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem traveled up to Kiryat Shmona and crushed the northerners 3-0 as Ion Nicolaescu scored a brace while the yellow-and-black inched closer to securing a championship playoffs position.After a goalless first half, the visitors began to fill the goal when Nicolaescu scored from outside of the box and beat K8 ’keeper Dziugas Bartkus for a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute. Less than a quarter-hour later, Danilo Asprilla doubled the advantage and Nicolaescu added the third marker in the 88th minute as Beitar took the victory and the three points. “Throughout the game we had many quality chances,” a satisfied Beitar coach Yossi Abukasis began. “We were very organized on the defensive end and we were very dangerous over the course of the second half. The guys have played many minutes over the past while and they should be commended for that.”“We didn’t come out of the locker room at the start of the second half,” Kiryat Shmona assistant coach Ravid Gezel said. “Unfortunately, we gave up an easy goal and you could say we then fell apart. This hasn’t happened to us all season long and it’s not the way a team that is fighting for it’s survival should be playing.”In the capital city, Maccabi Netanya blanked Hapoel Jerusalem 2-0 as both sides lost a man and finished the game off with just 10 players.William Togui was sent off due to a reckless tackle on Aviv Avraham in the sixth minute, which left the Reds down a man, but the diamond city side also lost a player in the 62nd minute when Karem Jaber’s foul in the box saw him sent off as well.Liran Rotman finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute when he pounced on a Patrick Twumasi rebound to give Netanya a 1-0 lead as the latter scored as well deep into second-half injury time to wrap up the win.“We had a tough time playing against 10 men,” Netanya’s Ron Kozuk said. “We should have played better but we just didn’t. However, I’m happy that we were able to record the victory. We need to know how to handle a situation similar to this game. We were a bit lucky and I’m happy that we were able to translate our opportunities into goals.”“We gave up a goal that we shouldn’t have,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie began. “We’re going through a time where things are just not going our way.”By the Carmel mountain, Hapoel Haifa and Ashdod SC drew 1-1 as each squad earned a point.Following a scoreless opening 45 minutes, Hanan Maman’s left-footed strike gave Haifa a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute, but 10 minutes later Muhammad Knaan found the equalizer for the port city squad. “We played intelligently which resulted in a good game for our team,” Ashdod bench boss Ran Ben Shimon said. “To come into Sammy Ofer Stadium and to control the majority of the game is something that can’t be taken for granted. Haifa was dangerous at times but we held the pace of play which I’m very pleased about.”“We expected much more from the game,” Carmel Reds coach Roni Levy began. “I thought we would continue the way we had played last week, but here I am unhappy about how we looked. But we did take a point in what was a better second half, however, we need to know how to hold onto a lead and not concede in this type of game.”Meanwhile, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Bnei Reineh ended in a 1-1 as the two squads split the points at the Netanya Stadium.Alen Ozbolt scored just ahead of the break as he took a Dan Einbinder ball and put it into the Reineh goal for a 1-0 lead. However, Mark Koszta took advantage of his side’s first chance of the game in the 77th minute to find the equalizer as each team headed home with a point.“I feel as if we lost the match,” a disappointed Hapoel Tel Aviv head coach Haim Silvas said. “I can’t remember if Reineh had a chance other than the one they scored on. I still can’t believe it, it’s so disappointing. We didn’t have many opportunities, but we controlled the pace of play. We’re having a tough time and our fans don’t deserve it.”
“After we allowed Hapoel Tel Aviv to take the lead in one of the worst possible minutes, then for sure a draw is a good result,” Reineh bench boss Sharon Mimer explained. “We knew the importance of the game and all in all I’m satisfied. We tried to win this game and score goals from the get-go, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it. The character and belief of the players is what I’ll take from this match.”Also, Hapoel Beersheba slipped by Sektzia Ness Ziona 1-0 as Rotem Hatuel took a Eugene Ansah cross and slammed it home at the stroke of halftime to take the win and all the points.“Sometimes we like to only look at the result and not the way that the result occurred,” Beersheba coach Elyaniv Barda said. “The way we did get to this result was very good, as was how prepared the players were. This was a tough game for us at a difficult location, but the win was important.”“This wasn’t a great game for us,” Ness Ziona bench boss Shlomi Dura said. “I’m disappointed to lose a game like the way we did as we prepared the team really well for this contest. We still need to improve our front line but we will take the good things from this game like our defense and the way that we played on that end.”Maccabi Haifa was looking to extend its lead atop the table, however the Greens will have to wait until Wednesday as their match against Hapoel Hadera slated for Monday has been postponed due to inclement weather.