Hapoel Tel Aviv tops Maccabi in Dror Kashtan's final derby

A Shimon Gershon penalty and Shai Abutbul's second-half free kick secure the win for Hapoel.

Kashtan 88 (photo credit: )
Kashtan 88
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Dror Kashtan signed off with a 2-0 Premier League victory over bitter rival Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night. Kashtan will be leaving to coach the national team at the end of the season. His players gave him a perfect farewell present by winning the last Tel Aviv derby of the season. Shimon Gershon gave Hapoel the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime, with Shai Abutbul's second-half free kick securing the win for Hapoel. The win allowed the reds to overtake Betar Jerusalem and open a two-point lead in the battle for second place. With five games remaining, Maccabi Haifa holds an eight-point lead at the top of the standings. No derby is without some controversy and on Sunday it was referee Menashe Mashiach who was the center of attention. Mashiach failed to spot a clear penalty for each of the teams in the first half and angered the Maccabi players when he gave Hapoel the penalty right before the break. Hapoel tore into Maccabi from the kickoff and came close to scoring on a number of occasions before the yellow-and-blue had even mustered a single decent opportunity. Hapoel continued to dominate the first half and although Maccabi had its moments, the result accurately reflected the balance of power between the biggest Tel Aviv clubs. As with every derby, this match started at a hectic pace with both teams desperate to draw first blood against their bitter rival. Hapoel's first chance came in the eighth minute after Maccabi 'keeper Liran Strauber pushed Gili Vermot's pass onto Baruch Dego's leg and the ricochet went just wide of the post. Haopel continued to control the match and it finally got the breakthrough in first-half stoppage time. Striker Ilya Yeborian was judged to have been held back in the box by Maccabi's Alvin Bagiri and the referee awarded Hapoel a penalty. Gershon sent Strauber the wrong way and gave his team the lead. In the previous eight Tel Aviv derbies, the team that scored first went on to win and that pattern continued on Sunday. Maccabi never managed to recover from falling behind and in the 77th minute Hapoel secured the win. Substitute Abutbul scored on a perfect free kick to send the Hapoel fans into a night of celebration.