Champion Maccabi Tel Aviv and last season’s Premier League title holder Hapoel Beersheba ended their highly anticipated game in a goalless draw at the Netanya Stadium on Monday night.
The game turned out to be a one-sided affair as the yellow-and-blue dominated play but couldn’t find the back of the goal. The Southern Reds spent most of the match defending successfully with the aim of keeping Maccabi at bay.
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Vladimir Ivic spoke about his team’s frustrating effort after the match.
"I don’t know what Beersheba’s target was before the game,” said Ivic. “Our target was to win the game. We created a lot of opportunities in the first half and we controlled the game. I don’t remember that they had a chance, perhaps one. This is a game we should have won by three or four, but instead we drew 0-0.”
In other action, Beitar Jerusalem demolished Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-1 as four different goal scorers found the back of the net.
Freddy Plumain scored the lone marker of the first half by putting away a Yossi Benayoun pass. Anthony Varene headed in a Gadi Kinda cross in the 58th minute to double the Jerusalem advantage, but Armando Cooper pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 79th minute.
Goals by Tal Kahila and Or Zahavi helped secure the victory for host Beitar.
Meanwhile, Bnei Sakhnin defeated Ashdod 2-1 in the port city in a relegation battle between the two bottom-of-the-table clubs.
After 60 minutes of nondescript soccer, the game took an interesting turn when referee Oral Grinfeld issued a controversial straight red card to Ashdod’s Yuval Jakobovich. The midfielder, who had just come on two minutes earlier, dove for the ball as did Sari Falah for Sakhnin. Grinfeld was about to call a foul on Falah, but changed his mind and handed Jakobovich the red.
In the 75th minute, Grinfeld was again at the center of attention when he called a penalty in favor of Sakhnin when it looked like Obeida Khateb pulled down Mohammed Kalibat in the box despite replays indicating that there wasn’t any contact.
Shlomi Azulay stepped up to take the spot kick and promptly scored to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, Ashdod found the equalizer, also via penalty, when Amir Nassar tripped up Sagiv Yehezkel in the area and Dan Bitton converted.
But in the 84th minute Ataa Jaber beat Ashdod’s Yoav Gerafi to help Sakhnin to the three points and the win.
Ashdod owner Jacky Ben Zaken was livid following the defeat.
“The players and staff have invested a lot of time and effort and I invest a lot of money,” said Ben Zaken.
“I’ve always said that if we are relegated it should be in a sportsmanlike fashion. Unfortunately, if we are relegated it won’t be because of our efforts but due to the referee.”
Also, Hapoel Ra’anana recorded a huge 2-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Sammy Ofer Stadium, a reuslt that will most probably secure Ra’anana’s survival to play another season in the Premier League.
In other action Bnei Yehuda dropped Hapoel Hadera 3-2 at the Netanya Stadium, Maccabi Haifa defeated Maccabi Netanya 2-1 to move closer to a Europa League berth and Hapoel Tel Aviv drew 2-2 with Ironi Kiryat Shmona at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.