Mac TA up-and-running with easy win at Acre

Defending champs score two early goals to open with three points while Beersheba blanks Beitar.

Hapoel Beersheba soccer (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Beersheba soccer
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv got its Premier League title defense off to a blistering start on Saturday, scoring twice within the first seven minutes to beat Hapoel Acre 2-0 on the road.
Barak Itzhaki opened the scoring from close range after just 48 seconds following a swift team move and the yellow- and-blue effectively clinched the win in the seventh minute thanks to Eran Zahavi’s clinical finish.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement, but we won our first game which was far from easy,” said Maccabi coach Paulo Sousa.
Itzhaki, who returned to Maccabi after a year on loan at Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta, was delighted with the win despite a lackluster display in the second half.
“We are always aspiring to play better, but this is just the beginning of the season,” he said. “We aren’t playing on the Playstation.
We faced an opponent and they made life difficult for us after going two goals down.”
Hapoel Beersheba entered the season with high expectations following the acquisitions of Elyaniv Barda and Maor Buzaglo and it got its campaign off to a promising start on Saturday, defeating Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Beitar, which was hosting the match at Ramat Gan as the pitch at Teddy Stadium has yet to recover from the Maccabiah, was outplayed throughout the first half, but ultimately lost due to two costly mistakes by the usually reliable goalkeeper Ariel Harush.
Beersheba took the lead in the 19th minute through Siraj Nasar, with Harush parrying his header into the back of the net. The southerners clinched the three points in second-half stoppage time after Harush dropped Tomer Swisa’s cross beyond the goal-line.
“Clearly we will only be judged by how we play throughout the season, but it is always good to get off on the right foot,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We didn’t play as well in the second half, but we made the most of our chances and that is what counts. I never said that we couldn’t win the championship this season but I never said that we would either. We need to be consistent, play attractive soccer and aim to finish among the league’s top teams.”
Bnei Yehuda was one of the league’s quieter teams during the summer, but it opened 2013/14 with a win on Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 1-0 courtesy of Yoro Lamine’s goal (41).
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon was without five players for the match against Hapoel Haifa on Saturday due to a registration mishap and it paid the price, losing 2-0 at home.
Asrat Megersa left the hosts with 10 men after being sent off five minutes from halftime and Haifa secured the win through goals by Maharan Lala (76) and Zarko Korac (81).
Ramat Hasharon ended the match with nine men following Emir Hadzic’s sending off six minutes from time.
“To win away from home in your first match is a dream start,” said Haifa coach Shlomi Dora. “I’m happy that the players managed to remain patient until they finally made the breakthrough.”
Hapoel Ra’anana beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 in Netanya on Saturday in a battle between the league’s two newly-promoted sides.
Mamadou Toure scored Ra’anana’s winner in the 14th minute.
“I’m used to the fact that my team is overlooked,” said Ra’anana coach Menahem Koretzki, whose side was tipped by many to make an immediate return to the National League. “I’m pleased with the way we played, but there is still plenty of work to be done.”
The first weekend of action will be completed on Sunday when Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Haifa visits Ironi Kiryat Shmona.