Brazilians Fabio Junior, Abadi and Gabriel Dos fail to come up with the goods in league debuts; Maccabi TA scrapes 1-1 draw with Ashdod SC.
By SHARON SOLOMON
Hapoel Tel Aviv has opened its domestic campaign with a shaky 0-0 draw against Maccabi Netanya. The Red's entered the game as clear favorites, but failed to dominate the midfield and were repeatedly denied by a highly motivated Netanya side, in Monday evening's televised game at "The Box".
Guy Luzon's team is being considered as a title challenger this season, after making some impressive signings over the summer.
Brazilians Fabio Junior, Abadi and Gabriel Dos Santos were expected to boost the team's ability in the attacking department, but failed to provide the goods in their league debuts.
"I'm not happy with the result," Guy Luzon told reporters after the game. "But I must say that it was a good attacking game. We showed no signs of tiredness from last Thursday's UEFA Cup game and looked for the winner. This team has lots of potential. We just need to keep working hard in order to improve."
Maccabi Tel Aviv also failed to impress in its season premiere, barely managing a 1-1 draw with Alon Hazan's Ashdod SC.
"The Dolphin's" almost managed to register an impressive away win, but veteran captain Avi Nimni worked his magic yet again and earned the yellow-and-blue a valuable point.
Netanya 0, Hapoel TA 0
At "The Box", Netanya coach Reuven Atar had to manage without Itai Shechter, who is away on international duty in the annual Valeri Lobanovsky tournament.
The influential forward was replaced by the Chilean Sebastian Rosenthal, who has played for Scottish powerhouse Glasgow Rangers earlier in his career.
The Yellows picked up exactly where they left off last season, playing their trademark high-tempo game. Tel Aviv was forced back into its own half and failed to create goal-scoring chances for its attackers. But goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama denied the hosts with a series of acrobatic saves and managed to keep a clean sheet.
Tel Aviv showed more initiative in the second half, which resulted in numerous goal scoring opportunities. Baruch Dego's corner kick hit the post in the 72nd minute, but none of his teammates managed to convert off the rebound.
Brazilian striker Fabio Junior fired a shot off from close range just minutes later, but Liran Strauber was in place to collect the ball.
Despite the clear change in momentum, the hosts managed to keep their act together in defense and forced a draw.
Maccabi TA 1, Ashdod 1
The 5,000-strong Maccabi home support had every reason to be optimistic in the opening stages of the game, as their side pressed ahead for an early goal.
Ashdod seemed content to play on the counter attack and the tactic paid off when the visitors stung the yellow-and-blue in the 32nd minute.
Ashdod cleared the ball after a Tel Aviv attack, with David Revivo receiving the ball near the halfway line. The seasoned playmaker passed the ball into space and Idan Shriki broke the offside trap, taking the ball into his stride. The quick striker made no mistake and scored his first goal of the season.
Tel Aviv came out all guns blazing in the second half, producing a series of raids on the visitor's goal. Eli Cohen introduced Yossi Shivkhon to the game and the hosts managed to score a late equalizer. Influential captain Avi Nimni drilled the ball into the net in the 84th minute of the encounter.
var cont = `Stay Informed
As the war against Hamas unfolds, our unwavering newsroom remains committed to covering Israel's most profound crisis.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real-time news and in-depth analysis from our top reporters.