The Jerusalem Post

Teams find rhythm before international break

 MACCABI TEL AVIV continued its strong start to the Israel Premier League season with a 3-0 victory over Hapoel Hadera this week at Netanya Stadium (photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)
MACCABI TEL AVIV continued its strong start to the Israel Premier League season with a 3-0 victory over Hapoel Hadera this week at Netanya Stadium

Mac Haifa edges Hap Jerusalem • Mac TA handles Hadera • Beitar notches road win at Ashdod

Maccabi Haifa slipped by Hapoel Jerusalem 2-1 in Israel Premier League action as a pair of goals in just a couple of minutes helped the Greens take the three points.

After a goalless opening half hour, Abdoulaye Seck headed home a Tjaron Chery corner kick while two minutes later Dia Saba cleaned up a rebound for a quick 2-0 lead.

Don Cedric pulled a goal back just ahead of the break, but that would be as close as the capital city Reds would get.

“I want to win every game and we lost so I am disappointed,” Hapoel Jerusalem head coach Ziv Arie said. “We were very soft and they took advantage of every loose ball. We played well but after they scored we fell apart. The second half was better, but we didn’t have a lot of chances and we turned over the ball just too many times.”


“This was a very important win,” Maccabi Haifa coach Messay Dego began. “I told the guys that we were going to play a very balanced team and they can play at a very high level. But we scored some nice goals and I’m very happy with the win and the way that we played throughout. Other than the goal, Jerusalem didn’t have any other chances.”

MACCABI HAIFA players celebrated during their 3-1 victory over visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv this week at Sammy Ofer Stadium. (credit: Maccabi Haifa/Courtesy)
MACCABI HAIFA players celebrated during their 3-1 victory over visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv this week at Sammy Ofer Stadium. (credit: Maccabi Haifa/Courtesy)

Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv cruised by Hapoel Hadera 3-0 to head into the international break with six points after two games.

Dan Bitton broke the ice in the 13th minute thanks to a Joris van Overeem ball, while Gaby Kanichowsky added the second goal a quarter-hour into the second half. Eran Zahavi scored the third goal of the contest when newcomer Kiko Bondoso sent a perfect pass to the yellow-and-blue striker, who sent the ball into the left corner of Ohad Levita’s goal to wrap up the clinical win.

“We played really well at times,” Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Robbie Keane explained. “I kept giving them the same message - ‘don’t get bored keep moving the ball.’ We got an early goal and we probably should have capitalized; I think we try to force things too many times. In the second half, it was 2-3 touches, moved the ball and we got the goals. It was good to get a lot of players on the pitch to get minutes which is important for the team.”

“We have to deal with the schedule and it’s not great to lose a game 3-0,” Hapoel Hadera coach Niso Avitan said. “There were some minutes that we played well and others not, but we tried our best and we are looking for some players to come in. I do believe that we have a decent team.”


At the port city, Beitar Jerusalem downed Ashdod SC 2-1 as yellow-and-black new recruit Mayron George bagged a brace in his debut to help Yossi Abukasis’s squad to the three points.

Ofir Kriaf snatched the ball in the midfield and sent George a perfect pass that the Costa Rican striker put away to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. However, Deni Hocko’s own-goal drew the hosts even. But George headed home the second half winner to give Beitar its first victory of the season.

“We have to improve on the minutes that we are controlling the play,” Abukasis said. “We began the match well, but we conceded a weird goal that gave Ashdod life. While we didn’t start the second half off well, we ended up scoring a beautiful goal. We came close to scoring a third goal as we had some good chances, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it.”

“We really pressed for the equalizer late in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough,” Ashdod coach Eli Levy explained. “We created some good chances and we played well while Beitar didn’t have that many more opportunities. The difference was that they scored and we didn’t.”

At Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Tel Aviv blanked Maccabi Netanya 2-0 to take the three points.

The Reds grabbed an early 1-0 lead thanks to an Alen Ozbolt penalty after Mavis Tchibota had been pulled down in the box while captain Dan Einbinder scored in the second half to notch the club’s first victory of the season.

“We have always believed in the work we are doing,” Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Michael Valkanis began. “We still have a long way to go, but we had a good performance in this game. We played attacking football and we had intensity off the ball and we knew Netanya was a very similar team. This is a good time for the international break as we can work with some players over the course of the two weeks.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Petah Tikva drew 2-2 as the Carmel Reds came back from a two-goal deficit to earn a point in front of their home crowd at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Idan Gorno helped the visitors to a quick 1-0 lead off a corner while Mohammed Hindi scored a penalty in the 52nd minute to double the advantage. However, two minutes later Tomer Yosefi headed home the ball to cut the lead to 2-1 and guy Melamed scored from in close in the 84th minute to snatch the draw and a point.

“We showed a lot of character in coming back in this game,” Hapoel Haifa coach Roni Levy said. “We pushed forward and it wasn’t easy, but the players really were able to do it in front of the home fans. We still have a lot of new players and it will take some time, but to come back from two goals down is very good.”

“We started going backwards and we needed to attack,” Maccabi Petah Tikva bench boss Benny Lam explained. “The first half was excellent and we should have scored four goals. But you have to give credit to Haifa, who had a lot of fans after they won last week. We needed to finish this game off and we just didn’t.”  

Up in the Galilee, Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Bnei Reineh drew 1-1 in a spirited game at Green Stadium.

Kayes Ganem stunned the Southern Reds to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, but seconds later Alon Turgeman found the stunning equalizer as the sides split the points.

“We gave up a goal on a set piece and that was the only chance they had all game,” Hapoel Beersheba coach Elyaniv Barda said. “They played with 10 players behind the ball and it was tough to score. We created many chances and we moved the ball from side to side with patience. Next time the ball will go in.”

“We didn’t fall apart after Beersheba drew even, which is very important,” Bnei Reineh coach Sharon Mimer explained. “We could have taken the win had we gotten a bit of luck.”

Also, Hapoel Petah Tikva and Bnei Sakhnin played to a 1-1 draw as each squad earned a point  at the Moshava Stadium.

Idan Vered scored off a Raz Stain corner kick to give the hosts a 1-0 lead early on, but just ahead of the break Petah Tikva was reduced to 10 men and Sakhnin lost captain Beram Kayal.

Haitian defender Djimi Alexis’s reckless tackle sent the veteran midfielder directly to the hospital with what is thought to be a broken ankle. Sakhnin pushed for a goal throughout the second half and found it late in the game via Mohammed Badarna to rescue a point for their efforts.