Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Hapoel Beersheba 2-0 in a classic battle for first place on Monday night in the Israel Premier League.
In front of a sell-out crowd a Bloomfield Stadium, a Loai Taha own-goal in the 45th minute and an Itay Shechter strike in the 94th gave the yellow-and-blue the victory and moved the reigning champion into first place with 20 points, three points clear of the southern Reds.
Beersheba played aggressive soccer out of the box as central defender Miguel Vitor picked up a yellow card with a reckless tackle on Maccabi striker Matan Hozez.
Vitor continued to live dangerously and was once again on the spot as the referee was helped by the VAR and ruled that he accidentally stepped on one of the yellow-and-blue players. But minutes later, Vitor pulled down Chico Ofoedu and was finally sent off leaving the Beersheba with just 10 men. The hosts continued to attack and were rewarded by their efforts at the stroke of halftime when Beersheba’s Taha headed the ball into his own goal to give Maccabi a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes.
Despite being down a player, Beersheba controlled the pace of play throughout the second half, but couldn’t create any scoring chances. However, Maccabi’s Shechter did as he broke free in injury time to score and give the yellow-and-blue the win and three points, allowing Vladimir Ivic’s side to retake first place and leapfrog the southern reds in the standings.
Maccabi ’keeper Daniel Tenenbaum also set the record for most minutes without conceding a goal to start the season and claimed his eighth clean sheet.
“We deserved the win, but I’m still not happy because this isn’t how we want to play,” said Ivic following the game. “Each win is three points and this is how we need to continue on, but we have plenty to work on.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Haifa blasted Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 at Sammy Ofer Stadium as the Carmel Reds sent Niso Avitan’s squad to another shocking defeat.
Nes Zamir opened the scoring for Haim Silvas’s side in the 21st minute as he finished off a terrific end-to-end team play sending the home fans into delirium. However, that joy would be tempered 15 minutes, later when Ben Vahaba was sent off for a brutal foul on Camara leaving the home team with only 10 men for close to an hour.
In the 44th minute, Haifa was awarded a penalty after Gidi Kanuk was tripped up in the Tel Aviv box, which Eden Ben Basat duly converted for a 2-0 lead.
Tel Aviv’s Nir Lax was handed a red card after pulling down Mahran Lala in the box, which allowed Gal Arel the chance to add the third goal from the penalty spot as Haifa wrapped up the win.
“Everything went our way,” said Silvas following the game. “We had some challenges once we were reduced to 10 men, but we played tough and focused to get the win.”
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa defeated Hapoel Kfar Saba 3-0 at the Moshava Stadium.
Tjaronn Chery scored his first of two in the first half when he elegantly found the far corner of the goal with his left foot to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The hosts continued to play Marko Balbul’s side tough, but a 67th-minute red card to Gershon Kofi reduced Kfar Saba to 10 men. Chery added his second of the contest in the 90th minute, while Muhammad Awad added the third goal three minutes later to give the Carmel Greens the win and the three points.
Also, Beitar Jerusalem downed Bnei Yehuda 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium as to move into fourth place. Shlomi Azulay slotted home the yellow-and-blacks’s first goal right before the break, while Ali Mohamed scored his first goal for the Beitar in the 67th minute to defeat slumping Bnei Yehuda.
“This was a tough game against a strong team with a very dangerous attack,” said Jerusalem coach Roni Levy. “Credit goes to the players who put in a great performance.”
Ashdod SC sunk Maccabi Netanya 4-2 as the Diamond City side was relegated to just nine men just minutes into the second half.
Netanya took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute after Roie Kehat blasted home a terrific through ball, but just five minutes later Almog Cohen was sent off for a foul on Jakub Sylvestr. Ashdod immediately took advantage of the extra man to score a pair of goals by halftime, as Sylvestr’s gorgeous volley and Shlomi Azulay’s strike beat Netanya ’keeper Dani Amos to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Early in the second half, Kehat was handed his second yellow card and was ejected from the contest, leaving Netanya with just nine players as Ashdod’s Sagiv Yehezkel added other goal in the 65th minute for 3-1 advantage.
However, Roman Golobart pulled a marker back with a free kick 10 minutes later before Azulay added his second goal of the game in injury time as coach Roni Awaat’s side continued their surprising season.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona picked up its first win under new coach Kobi Refuah by defeating Hapoel Ra’anana 2-1 in the northern capital.
Captain Idan Nachmias gave the hosts a 1-0 lead late in the first half, but Idan Shemesh scored a fabulous bicycle kick goal in the 68th minute to draw Ra’anana even. However, five minutes later Cillian Sheridan took advantage of his height and headed home the winner to give his squad the three points.
Hapoel Hadera played Ness Ziona to an entertaining 2-2 draw. Lucio found the back of the goal first as the striker scored in the fifth minute to give the visitors a quick 1-0 lead.
Raz Stein pulled the hosts even just before the break as he scored from within the area to give Ness Ziona its first home goal of the season.
Hagay Goldenberg gave Hadera the lead in the 58th minute, but Moussa Maazou netted five minutes later to allow the teams to split the points.