Maccabi Tel Aviv edges Netanya in thriller

Both teams lost important players in the lead-up to the match.

MACCABI TEL AVIV forward Nick Blackman (photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
MACCABI TEL AVIV forward Nick Blackman
(photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)
Maccabi Tel Aviv twice came back from behind to defeat Maccabi Netanya 3-2 on Monday night, registering its third straight Premier League win thanks to three sensational solo efforts.
Omer Atzili’s remarkable shot from 30 meters out brought Tel Aviv level in the 22nd minute, one minute after Alhassane Keita had given Netanya the lead. The hosts still led at the break thanks to Diya Saba’s (29) goal, but Vidar Orn Kjartansson equalized once more for the yellow-and-blue five minutes into the second half after shaking his marker and finding the bottom right corner. The winner arrived nine minutes later via Nick Blackman’s stunning strike from 27 meters.
“We needed two amazing goals to get the three points,” said Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff after his team moved within a single point of the summit.
Both teams lost important players in the lead-up to the match, with Tel Aviv’s Dor Micha suffering an injury while warming up and Netanya’s Eran Levy being ruled out with a leg injury that saw him miss training for much of the past week.
Levy is regarded by many as Netanya’s most important player, but the hosts seemed to be managing just fine without him when they took the lead in the 21st minute.
Keita found himself with time and space in the box and headed in the opener from Kobi Mor’s cross.
It took the visitors less than 30 seconds from the restart to equalize, with goalkeeper Danny Amos helpless against Atzili’s stunning strike. But Netanya needed only seven minutes to move back in front with Saba slotting the ball under ‘keeper Predrag Rajkovic after the yellow-andblue defense was exposed once more.
Didier Kougbenya should have really doubled Netanya’s advantage two minutes into the second half, missing the target with only Rajkovic to beat.
Tel Aviv made the most of the reprieve, with a costly defensive mistake putting through Kjartansson who equalized with a clinical finish.
Maccabi scored the winner nine minutes later, with Blackman receiving the ball from Atzili and releasing an unstoppable effort into the top left corner.
Earlier Monday, Sharom Mimer was unveiled as Maccabi Petah Tikva’s new head coach. Petah Tikva became the fifth different Premier League team to replace a coach this season after Kubi Refua handed in his resignation on Sunday. Refua decided to quit after the side suffered its third consecutive loss on Saturday, falling 3-1 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Mimer, who was sacked by Beitar Jerusalem four days before the team opened its league campaign, will coach Petah Tikva for the first time when it faces Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday.
Mimer was also wanted by Hapoel Ra’anana after it sacked Dudu Avraham on Sunday. Ra’anana, which picked up just a single point from its first four matches, named Guy Levy as Avraham’s replacement on Monday.