Maccabi, Hapoel duel to draw in TA derby

Yellow-and-blue notches second-half equalizer at Bloomfield to pull out 1-1 result vs Reds.

Rangelov (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv battled to a 1-1 draw in an intense derby showdown at Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night, a result which mainly benefits leagueleader Maccabi Haifa.
Hapoel was the better team in the first half and took the lead through Walid Badier in the 30th minute. However, Dimitar Rangelov equalized for the hosts three minutes into the second half to ensure the spoils were shared.
Maccabi fans left the stadium pleased with the point, but the draw extends the team’s winless streak in derby clashes to eight matches, with the yellow-and-blue losing five and drawing three of its league encounters with its arch-rival since its last win, in March 2008.
The draw leaves Haifa at the top of the standings, two points ahead of Hapoel, with Maccabi a further four points back.
There were more fouls than chances in a tight and nervy start to the match.
Hapoel could have made an early breakthrough in the eighth minute, but Eran Zahavi made a mess of his volley.
Five minutes later, Haris Medunjanin put through Rangelov, but Maccabi’s Bulgarian striker took far too long on the ball, allowing the Hapoel defense to clear the danger.
As the match progressed, Hapoel began to come out of its shell, and with Maccabi almost frozen by the occasion, it was only a matter of time until the visitors would score the opener.
In the 29th minute, Savo Pavicevic’s defensive blunder left Hapoel’s Gili Vermut with only goalkeeper Liran Strauber to beat, but the midfield magician gave himself too much work to do after rounding the stopper and Maccabi was spared.
However, less than a minute later the Reds would take the lead.
After some excellent build up play on the left flank, Zahavi crossed the ball into the box and veteran defender Badier was perfectly placed to head in the opener.
Eliran Atar squandered Maccabi’s best chance to equalize in the first half four minutes from the break, shooting straight at ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama despite having all the time in the world to pick his spot.
Hapoel took a deserved lead into the interval, but the hosts began the second half with the urgency they so desperately lacked before Moti Ivanir’s halftime talk and the equalizer soon arrived.
Maor Buzaglo sliced the defense with his pass and Rangelov tucked the ball in to the delight of the previously despondent yellow-and-blue faithful.
It took Hapoel almost 20 minutes to recover from conceding the equalizer, while Maccabi seemed more than content on sitting back and soaking up the pressure in the rainy weather.
Maccabi’s tactics worked for much of the time, but in the 67th minute it was fortunate not to concede, with Ben Sahar’s shot going centimeters wide of the upright.
With scoring opportunities at such a premium, players were trying their luck from all distances and Djibril Sidibe’s attempt in the 79th minute almost paid off.
The Malian midfielder released a thunderous shot from 30 meters out, but Enyeama was alert and denied Sidibe what would have been one of the goals of the season.
Vermut had one superb chance to decide the match four minutes from time, but his powerful shot from the edge of the area was saved by Strauber and both teams went home with the point they deserved.