Maccabi Tel Aviv narrows gap on Greens

Zahavi stars vs Mac Haifa, Glouch says goodbye to yellow-and-blue • Beitar blanks Bnei Reineh

 MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Eran Zahavi (front) celebrates after scoring the second of his two goals in the yellow-and-blue’s 3-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium. (photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Eran Zahavi (front) celebrates after scoring the second of his two goals in the yellow-and-blue’s 3-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium.
(photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)

In a spirited affair, Maccabi Tel Aviv dominated Maccabi Haifa 3-0 on Monday night in Israel Premier League action as Eran Zahavi scored a second half brace to lead the hosts to the emotional victory.With the win, Aitor Karanka’s squad cut the Greens’ lead atop the table to five points as Maccabi continued to close in on first place.

In what was most probably starlet Oscar Glouch’s last game for the yellow-and-blue, the attacking midfielder didn’t disappoint as he delivered an assist on Parfait Guiagon’s goal at the end of the first half to the delight of not only the home fans but also Red Bull Salzburg Sports Director Christoph Freund, who was in attendance.

Zahavi then doubled the advantage when he blasted a Djorde Jovanovic ball into the top right corner of the goal in the 63rd minute for a 2-0 lead. As things began to heat up on the pitch, Muhammed Abu Fani was issued a red card after a reckless foul on Dan Glazer and that was immediately followed up by the referee handing a red card as well to Greens head coach Barak Bachar.

  Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Bnei Herzliya. (credit: Kobi Eliyahu) Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Bnei Herzliya. (credit: Kobi Eliyahu)

“There are games like this and Maccabi was fighting for their lives."

Barak Bachar

Glouch was then substituted off to a standing ovation as the youngster is slated to move to Salzburg over the upcoming days. However, Maccabi wasn’t finished off yet as Zahavi blasted in yet another goal, this time into the top left hand corner to polish off the knockout win for the yellow-and-blue.

“I am really pleased for the players and the crowd,” Karanka said. “This win is for both of them. The way we played and the atmosphere on the bench has been amazing and to see our crowd is amazing. We had a very good game, but if we don’t win on Saturday then this win means nothing.”

“There are games like this and Maccabi was fighting for their lives,” a disappointed Bachar began. “We prepared for this and we spoke about it, but we did not play well at all. This is the game of soccer and we really are dominated. Maybe this type of loss will do something for us and the fact that the gap has been cut will be a positive for us.”Zahavi, the man of the match, also reflected on the win.

“I would give the team a rating of 10 and myself maybe I’d give a 7-8 for this game. This was our best game of the season and for me every game I try to give back to the team and do my best. But as a team we did whatever the coach asked us. This is Maccabi Tel Aviv and this is how we need to look.”Meanwhile, Beitar Jerusalem blanked Bnei Reineh 2-0 as the yellow-and-black scored a pair of first-half goals to seal the win and the three points.

Ori Dahan headed home a Yarden Shua corner kick to give the visitors a 1-0 in the 15th minute, while just three minutes later Danilo Asprilla nodded a Bar Cohen ball behind the Reineh ’keeper Arik Yanko to take the victory.“I believe that a game isn’t over until it’s over,” Beitar bench boss Yossi Abukasis said. “There was a big save late in the game and I will only relax once I know it’s done. When it was 2-0 we had plenty of chances to score and finish the game off but we didn’t do it.”

Games down south

Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Netanya played to an entertaining 2-2 draw  at Turner Stadium.All four goals came in the first half as Rotem Hatuel opened the scoring in the eighth minute for the hosts, but then 10 minutes later Patrick Twumasi found the equalizer.

However, Igor Zlatanovic gave the diamond city side the lead in 39th minute before Sagiv Yehezkel quickly evened up the game right before the break as the squads split the points.

Also, Ashdod SC scored a pair of second-half goals at Hapoel Hadera to record a 2-0 victory and take the points.Ran Ben Shimon’s squad got on the scoreboard early on in the second half as Muhammed Knaan took a Naor Sabag ball and beat Hadera ’keeper Robi Levkovich for a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute. Mugees Zakaria added a late injury-time strike to seal the win.

“There is good energy going on and the guys won a very tough game,” Ben Shimon said. “Many teams have lost here and to come into the game after a tough week where we were missing players and some were sick and injured, it was just great to win this contest.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv drew 0-0 at Teddy Stadium and each team took a point as Tel Aviv’s potential new ownership group looked on in the capital city.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t take all three points,” Tel Aviv coach Haim Silvas said. “The past two weeks we have been putting things together and we were much more organized in this game. We were in control the entire game even when we didn’t have the ball, but we were missing that killer instinct at the end.”“The league is really tough and every team is fighting for position,” Jerusalem’s Ziv Arie remarked. “Tel Aviv came and were desperate for points. We wanted to win but I am not going to cry over a draw. We have had a hard time scoring and we have to find a way to fix that because one goal would have given us the win.”

At the Moshava Stadium, Sektzia Ness Ziona and Bnei Sakhnin played to a dry goalless draw as both teams split the points.

“I’m disappointed overall as we really controlled the pace of play and we had numerous chances,” Ness Ziona coach Shlomi Dura said. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t score. On the other hand, we could have lost this game if we had lost our focus for just one moment. I hope things will be better over the course of the upcoming games.”Finally, Hapoel Haifa slipped by Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 on a Guy Mizrachi marker from the top of the box to steal the three points just ahead of the final whistle at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

“It’s always great to win in the 90th minute,” a content Roni Levy said. “We had chances to score and we just couldn’t do it, but the players deserve all the credit for not just giving up and it paid off for them and the fans with a goal right at the end. This was a very important win against a tough opponent.”