Mac Tel Aviv, Hap Beersheba keep pace

Atar hat-trick propels yellow-and-blue to rout of Acre • Southerners rally back from deficit vs Ashdod

Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Eliran Atar celebrates after scoring his third goal during last night’s 5-2 win over Hapoel Acre in Netanya. (photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Eliran Atar celebrates after scoring his third goal during last night’s 5-2 win over Hapoel Acre in Netanya.
(photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
Reigning champion Hapoel Beersheba came back from a one-goal halftime deficit in Ashdod to continue and build momentum on Sunday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv got back on track with a 5-2 victory over Hapoel Acre.
After defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1 last week despite playing with 10 men from the 21st minute, Beersheba trailed Ashdod SC at the break, with Mauricio Cordeiro finding the back of the net for the hosts against the run of play in the 42nd minute.
Beersheba kept its cool, with Maharan Radi equalizing in the 56th minute before Anthony Nawkaeme’s brace (63, 87) secured a 3-1 victory.
An Eliran Atar hat-trick and Avi Rikan brace helped see Maccabi Tel Aviv return to winning ways.
Maccabi couldn’t have asked for a better opponent against which to rebound.
Rock-bottom Acre sacked coach Shlomi Dora last week and was being guided for the first time by Eldad Shavit, who was making his top flight debut.
Tel Aviv dominated from the start, but had to wait until the 28th minute to break the deadlock. Atar finally scored his first league goal of the season and Maccabi had to wait just two minutes for Rikan to double the advantage. Siraj Nassar missed a penalty for Acre in the 54th minute and Rikan (70) and Atar (76) made it 4-0.
The visitors made the score-line a little more respectable with two late goals from Gabriel Knaykovski (80) and Fejsal Mulic (86), but Atar had the final laugh with his unstoppable set piece from the edge of the box with the final kick of the contest.
“Unfortunately, again we had 20-25 minutes in which we go down, lose control of the game and concede stupid goals and that is something we need to improve,” said Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff. “I did like our tempo and that we played fast from side to side. When we lost the ball immediately we put pressure on them and that is something we didn’t see in recent weeks.”
Cruyff is hoping his team can build on the win with victories over Astana in Europa League action on Thursday and against Hapoel Ra’anana next Sunday before the international break.
“We have an important game on Thursday and another game on Sunday and for us those are two must win games,” he noted. “And after that we have a break and I hope to recover 5-6 players that we have been waiting for.”
Levy tenure with Israel officially over Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini notified national team coach Elisha Levy that his contract will not be renewed in a meeting on Sunday, officially bringing his tenure to an end after just two years.
Israel ended 2018 World Cup qualifying Group G in fourth place, losing four of five home games and five of six games in all to finish the campaign, scoring just a single goal over that stretch.
The IFA has plenty of time to not only find a new coach, but come up with a longterm plan to ensure the national team will at least hold an outside chance of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 1970, with the blue-and-white only beginning Euro 2020 qualification in March 2019.
Israel’s next competitive matches will be in September 2018 when the UEFA Nations League, a new league competition for national teams, gets under way for the first time.