Maccabi blanks Hapoel in Tel Aviv derby

Yellow-and-blue coasting to title • Mac Haifa gets back on track • Beitar settles for draw with Hap Haifa.

MACCABI TEL AVIV forward Eylon Almog celebrates after scoring the yellow-and-blue’s second goal during stoppage time of the club’s 2-0 derby victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium in Premier League Championship Playoff action. (photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
MACCABI TEL AVIV forward Eylon Almog celebrates after scoring the yellow-and-blue’s second goal during stoppage time of the club’s 2-0 derby victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium in Premier League Championship Playoff action.
(photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
Maccabi Tel Aviv won yet another Tel Aviv derby over the weekend as the yellow-and-blue beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 in Israel Premier League action. Eylon Almog was the star of the show with a goal and an assist for Vladimir Ivic’s squad, which haven’t lost to its city rival since 2014.
After a goalless first half at Bloomfield Stadium, Almog – with his back to the goal at the top of the box – fed Avi Rikan a gorgeous ball that he slotted behind Reds ’keeper Arik Yanko for 1-0 lead.
Almog doubled the score with a goal of his own off a beautiful Dor Peretz pass in the 91st minute to move Maccabi that much closer to clinching the league championship.
“This wasn’t one of our best games, but every point is important,” said Ivic. “We are doing what we need to win and we played excellent defensively. As for Eylon Almog, the sky’s the limit and he is doing what he is supposed to do.”
Almog, the man of the match, also spoke to reporters about his performance.
“I had a chance to come into the game earlier than usual and I’m happy that I was able to help the team win,” said the 21-year-old winger. “We have been working hard all season long and we have a chance to wrap up the championship on Tuesday against Hapoel Haifa.”
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa downed Hapoel Beersheba 1-0 as the Greens won their first Championship Playoff game.
Tjaron Chery’s 52nd-minute penalty was saved by Beersheba ’keeper Ernestas Setkus, but the midfielder made up for his miss when he sent Sintayehu Sallaich a beauty of a ball in the 77th minute, which was blasted into the back of the Reds’ goal for the lone marker of the contest.
“We like to win and we have done that throughout the season, but we didn’t begin the playoffs well,” said Greens coach Marko Balbul. “We controlled the pace of play throughout the 90 minutes and we deserved to win this game.”
Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa played to a 1-1 draw at Teddy Stadium in the nation’s capital as the yellow-and-black is still looking for its first win in the Championship Playoffs.
The hosts struck first when a Saar Fadida handball in the box led to a Freddy-Ange Plumain penalty for a 1-0 Beitar lead in the 36th minute. However, Roni Levy’s team couldn’t hold onto the advantage as Almog Bozaglo’s 79th-minute attempt went off of defender Diogo Verdasca and squirted by a helpless Itamar Nitzan for the tying goal and a split of the points.
“I’m very proud of my players,” exclaimed Haifa coach Haim Silvas. “I saw how they were tiring, but to come back from a deficit is fantastic. The game was close and the result reflected that. So far the playoffs have been great for us and I hope that this will continue to give us a good base to build on for next season.”
Levy, meanwhile, was forlorn after the match.
“This was a huge disappointment,” stated Levy. “We were up 1-0 and had numerous chances, but that’s soccer. I’m content with our play but of course I wish we would have been able to score more goals during the playoffs.”
Also, Sektzia Ness Ziona defeated Hapoel Ra’anana 2-1 as a 95th-minute Dor Kochav goal not only gave Lior Zada’s squad the three points, but also clinched the Sharon side’s relegation to the second division.
Raz Stain opened the scoring for Ness Ziona with a 44th-minute penalty tally, but an 87th-minute strike by 19-year-old Golan Beni in his debut knotted the score up at 1-1 as it looked like the contest was headed to ending in a draw.
However, Kochav had different plans as he put the ball past Niv Antman to score the dramatic winner as time was just about to run out to snatch the points and keep Ness Ziona in the race to stave off relegation itself.
“This was a tough game and I felt that was going to be the case,” said Ness Ziona coach Lior Zada. “This was the first time this season that we came into the game as clear favorites and Ra’anana played with no pressure at all. But we were able to score and keep our own chances alive to stay up in the top division.”
Game-winning goal-scorer Dor Kochav spoke about his heroics.
“I’ve been feeling good the last few games and I knew if I was going to have a chance to score that I was going to. We all have to bring our best and I understood the importance of the challenge that is ahead of us.”
Maccabi Netanya needed a pair of late goals to drop 20-man Hapoel Hadera 2-1 as Slobodan Drapic’s team took the three points.
Hadera midfielder Solomon Daniel was issued a red card in the 26th minute after a reckless tackle on Omri Gendelman. But it would be Sharon Mimer’s Hadera which found the back of the goal first as Lucio gave the hosts a surprising 1-0 lead.
However, a Hen Ezra stunner in the 80th minute and a Guy Melamed header just two minutes later gave the visitors the win.
“We had to win this game,” said a relieved Drapic. “We did what we needed to and fortunately we won the game. I’m not concerned about the quality of play as we have had a mixed bag of results in the playoffs so far. We just have to continue on and play the best we can.”
Ashdod SC and Beni Yehuda played to a dramatic 3-3 draw on Sunday night as Dor Jan scored in the 90th minute for Elisha Levy’s squad to split the points.
Ashdod took a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Dean David and Yakov Berihon, but a Roie Ben Shimon brace knotted the score up midway through the second half.
Hamza Moasi found the back of the goal in his debut at the 76th minute to give Ashdod a 3-2 lead, but Jan’s heroics helped each side to a point a piece.
In other action, Hapoel Kfar Saba and Ironi Kiryat Shmona split the points in a goalless draw.

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