Any lingering pretense of a Maccabi Tel Aviv challenge for the Premier League title was sunk in embarrassing fashion on Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Bnei Yehuda
at Bloomfield Stadium
Forward Eli Biton was the happiest man in Tel Aviv last night after scoring Bnei Yehuda's third goal and settling the score with Maccabi coach Nir Klinger
, who released him earlier in the season.
After conceding only one goal in its first seven matches of the season, Maccabi conceded three in one game and will have to make some changes if it hopes to resist another Maccabi Haifa
Bnei Yehuda displayed once again why it is one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the league.
The win puts Bnei Yehuda second in the standings, five points behind reigning champion Maccabi Haifa, leapfrogging Maccabi, which dropped to third, a further three points behind Haifa.
Bnei Yehuda dominated play from the kickoff and went ahead after 16 minutes. Matte Baturina found himself free inside Maccabi's box and released an accurate pass to Ben Luz
, who easily tucked the ball past 'keeper Liran Strauber
Maccabi couldn't respond to being behind and Bnei Yehuda had two chances in two minutes to double its lead. Striker Moshe Biton
ballooned the ball from five meters out at the 31-minute mark, and one minute later Baturina hit a low shot centimeters wide of the post.
Bnei Yehuda dominated the first half and Maccabi was fortunate to go into the break just one goal behind.
Maccabi began the second half with the desire it lacked in the first, but only the substitution of Eyal Berkovic for Eugin Trica in the 54th minute eventually helped Maccabi even the score. Defender Yaniv Elul couldn't cope with Maccabi forward Jose Duarte and tripped him up, gifting Maccabi a penalty. Captain Avi Nimni
hit an unstoppable penalty and Maccabi equalized after 60 minutes.
Maccabi went searching for a winner with Duarte closest to getting the goal. Three minutes after the equalizer he found himself with only Elul to beat, but his poor shot was cleared by the defender.
Maccabi would live to regret the missed chances when 15 minutes from time Bnei Yehuda went ahead once more. Baturina was fouled in the box and Eli Abarbanel
converted the penalty to put his team in front.
Maccabi never really came close to levelling the score once more and Eli Biton scored Bnei Yehuda's third to and insult to Maccabi's injury.
Betar hires Caanen
Dutchman Ton Caanen was appointed as consultant/manager of Betar Jerusalem on Sunday.
"I'll work to make Betar Jerusalem the best, not only in Israel but in Europe," said Caanen at a press conference following his appointment. Caanen will work with coach Guy Azuri, who will stay in charge of matters on field.