Soccer: Boca beats Mac TA in centenary match

Boca striker Martin Palermo, one of the few first team players to make the trip to Israel, scored the only goal of the game.

boca juniors 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
boca juniors 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Argentinean champion Boca Juniors defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday night in a friendly match celebrating the hosts' centenary. Boca striker Martin Palermo, one of the few first team players to make the trip to Israel, scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot on the 76th minute. Maccabi's 100th year was nothing short of disastrous and the loss was a fitting end for the yellow-and-blue who suffered from a season of lows and extreme lows. A sizeable crowd attended the game, which was organized by Ben Gurion University, with all the proceeds from the match going towards scholarships for students at the institution. Bloomfield was filled by thousands of Argentinean Israelis‚ who enjoyed every moment of their idols on the pitch. The game was Tel Aviv coach Ton Caanen's last in charge of the yellow-and-blue after Maccabi's decision to appoint Eli Cohen in his place. Caanen addressed the fans before the match and said: "I want to say to the fans of Maccabi Toda Raba‚ for all their support. I hope you enjoyed your time with me because I enjoyed my time with you, despite Maccabi not having the season you expected." Tel Aviv began its 100th season with a star studded lineup, which included Avi Nimni, Eyal Berkovic and Giovanni Rosso, with the clear objective of winning the league and cup double. The team had a season from hell and could only manage a disappointing sixth place in the league and an early cup departure to inferior national league opposition. Maccabi was hoping to at least end the season on a high and seized the initiative from the first whistle, almost taking the lead as early as the sixth minute. Striker Ofir Haim, playing his last match in the yellow-and-blue, had plenty of time in the Boca box but his shot was cleared off the line by the Argentinean defense. Tel Aviv continued to go forward and moments later almost scored the first goal in the match. Giovani Rosso came inches from tapping in a cross that beat keeper Pablo Migliore but the ball passed the Croatian midfielder and the game remained scoreless. In the 25th minute former Argentinean international Martin Palermo should have given his team the lead but his left foot shot ran just wide of the post. Two minutes later Palermo came close once more. The striker attempted a bicycle kick to the delight of the crowd, but his shot was wide once again. Tel Aviv controlled the majority of the possession in the first half and should have taken the lead in the 35th minute. Youngster Ori Shitrit took advantage of a Boca defensive mistake but was unable to beat keeper Migliore, shooting to the center of the goal. The last chance to break the deadlock before half time fell to Boca midfielder Guillermo Marino who failed to score and shot straight at keeper Liran Strauber. Both teams were clearly tired at the start of the second half with Boca having the better of the early play. After 76 minutes the deadlock was finally broken. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was brought down in the box and Palermo blasted Boca into the lead from the penalty spot. Maccabi was unable to level the score and lost the match, but can at least comfort itself that its hellish season is over.