Local Soccer: Hapoel TA wins a pulsating derby

Maccabi's season goes from bad to worse as 3-1 defeat leaves it in 9th position.

maccabi tel aviv soccer 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
maccabi tel aviv soccer 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Hapoel Tel Aviv closed back to within a single point of top-of-the-table Maccabi Haifa on Monday night, claiming a sweet 3-1 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium. Hapoel trailed in the first half after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama punched the ball into the back of his own net. But Walid Badier equalized in first half stoppage time and, despite playing poorly, the visitors clinched the victory through goals from Eran Zehavi and Dimitar Telkiyski in the 72nd and 92nd minutes respectively. Next week, Hapoel visits Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium in one of Israeli soccer's most heated rivalries, which will also have serious implications on the title race. Maccabi's third derby defeat of the season means the team remains just five points from Bnei Sakhnin and 11th position, which leads to a relegation playoff. "We're very very disappointed," Maccabi coach Avi Nimni said. "We reached so many scoring opportunities, but we're so naïve that we miss and miss and in the end concede." After losing to Hapoel both in the league and in the State Cup round of 32, Maccabi burst out of the gates on Monday night. After just 80 seconds the yellow-and-blue should have taken the lead when Ilya Yavruyan, playing in his first match after a long injury lay-off, was left all alone in the Hapoel box, but showed his rust, failing to beat 'keeper Enyeama. Hapoel found its footing as the match progressed and registered its first chance of the encounter in the 15th minute when Gili Vermot's volley was kept out by Dragoslav Jevric's acrobatic leap. Seven minutes later, Maccabi took the lead with one of the strangest goals of the season. Enyeama, perhaps Hapoel's best player this term, came out of goal to clear Maor Buzaglo's corner kick, but instead palmed it into his own net to the delight of the loyal Maccabi support. Hapoel took a few minutes to overcome the shock of conceding such a needless goal and in the 31st minute was almost gifted the equalizer when Maccabi 'keeper Jevric made a mess of his clearance, but Samuel Yeboah couldn't make Maccabi pay, sending his bicycle kick into the side netting. Despite Jevric's mistake, the hosts were the better team throughout the first half. However, a momentary lapse of concentration in stoppage time cost them dearly. Maccabi's defense failed to clear a Maharan Lala cross and defender Badier was at the right place at the right time to tuck in the equalizer. Maccabi never really recovered from conceding the heartbreaking goal and, despite playing one of its worst matches in recent months, Hapoel went in front in the 72nd minute. Defender Douglas da Silva jumped highest in the Maccabi box and headed the ball into the path of substitute Eran Zehavi, who easily shot past Jevric. Maccabi sent everyone forward in the remaining minutes and deserved to leave with a point. In the 87th minute, Enyeama dropped a simple catch, but Dan Roman couldn't find the back of the net from less than five meters out and three minutes later Dulee Johnson wasted a golden opportunity, sending his attempt from two meters wide of the upright. As is often the case, Maccabi paid the price for its wastefulness, when in stoppage time Telkiyski beat Jevric from outside the box to clinch the win.