Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast October 21 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from October 21, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

The Sports Rabbi & Roy discuss Maccabi Tel Aviv defeating Maccabi Haifa, the controversy at the Bnei Sakhnin match and the rest of the Ligat Ha’Al matches from this past weekend!

Make sure to tune in and check us out on iTunes!

Sabras Abroad Israeli Footballers Playing Abroad October 18-20 2014

Here’s a roundup of Israeli footballers playing abroad and how they fared the past weekend!

Toto Tamuz- Romania Liga 1, Petrolul- SCORED in the 87th minute in 2-0 win over CEAHLĂUL PIATRA NEAMŢ

Ben Sahar by goalsandmore

Ben Sahar- Eredivisie, Willem II- SCORED the lone goal & played 78 minutes in 4-1 loss to Vitesse

Bibras Natcho- Russian Premier League, CSKA Moscow- ASSISTED on final goal of 6-0 win over Kuban Krasnodar

Monas Dabour- Swiss Super League, Grasshoppers- played 90 minutes in 3-1 loss to Zurich

Omer Damari- Austrian Bundesliga, Austria Wien- Played 90 minutes in 1-1 draw with Altach

Asael Ben Shabbat- Greece Super League, Kerkyra- played 79 minutes in 1-0 loss to Kalloni

Eyal Golasa- Greece Super League, PAOK- Played 39 mins & picked up a yellow card in 2-1 win over Atromitos

Nir Biton- Scottish Premiership, Celtic- Played 30 mins in 5-0 win over Ross County

Beram Kayal- Scottish Premiership, Celtic- Was not in squad in 5-0 win over Ross County

Rami Gershon- Belgian Jupiler League, Gent- ASSISTED on 1st goal & played 90 minutes in 2-2 draw with Sporting Charleroi

Kenny Saief- Belgian Jupiler League, Gent- Played 18 minutes in 2-2 draw with Sporting Charleroi

Idan Weitzman- Azerbaijan Premyer Liqa, Simurq- Played 90 mins in 0-0 draw with Inter Baki

Tomer Hemed- Spain La Liga, Almeria- Played 67 minutes in 2-0 loss to Villarreal

Tal Ben Haim- England Championship, Charlton- Played 90 minutes in 1-0 loss to Bournemouth

Dan Mori- Eredivisie, Vitesse- Did not play in 4-1 win over Willem II

Sintiyahu Sollalich- Slovenia League, Maribor- Played 8 minutes in 2-1 win over Celje

Dudu Biton- Slovenia League, Maribor- Did not play in 2-1 win over Celje

Eliran Atar- France Ligue 1, Stade de Reims- Was not in squad for 1-1 draw with Nantes

Itay Schecter- France Ligue 1, Nantes- Played 75 minutes in 1-1 draw with Stade de Reims

Football Israel Ligat Ha’al Round 4 Goals And Hilights October 18-20 2014

Hapoel Haifa wins their first game of the season as Bnei Sakhnin & Hapoel Tel Aviv draw! Beitar Jerusalem draws with Ashdod & the match of the week featured Maccabi Tel Aviv defeating Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-1 Maccabi Haifa

Maccabi Tel Aviv showed who was the Ligat Ha’Al boss last night as the yellow & blue took care of Maccabi Haifa in Tel Aviv 3-1. The match featured two foreign coaches with Pako Ayestaran leading the home side and Serbian Aleksandar Stanojević the Greens and both had their players ready for this match after a few weeks off due to the Yom Kippur Holiday & the International break. Tel Aviv began the match by delivering long balls to it’s speedy wingers, Tal Ben Chaim & Eran Zahavi, but the Haifa defense were able to keep them at bay while they produced a number of quality chances of their own.

Referee Orel Greenfield had a difficult time keeping both sides at bay as the opening 20 minutes were very chippy as each side picked up a yellow card and had to warned numerous times to take it easy and calm down. Unfortunately for Haifa, one of the Maccabi long balls finally made it’s way through to Ben Chaim who was pulled down right before entering the box by Eyal Meshumar who saw a straight red card which changed the dimension of the game.

Stanojević was then forced to make a tactical substitution taking off striker Alon Turgeman in favor of defender Matan Ohayon and played with only one striker up front in order to try and stymie the Tel Aviv offense. Ayestaran then made a substitution of his own before halftime taking off the injured Carlos Garcia in favor of striker Barak Badash.

Tal Ben Chaim in Action-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv website

Tal Ben Chaim in Action-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv website

It took a only 7 minutes into the second half until Tel Aviv took a short lived lead as Ben Chaim came down the left side and took a marvelous low shot on goal that Hasifa defender Taleb Tawatcha sliced into his own goal. However, just minutes later Ruben Rayos drew Haifa even scoring on a 59th minute penalty and leaving Tel Aviv in shock.

Eran Zahavi & Nikola Mitrovic-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv  Website

Eran Zahavi & Nikola Mitrovic-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

The shock fortunately wore off very quickly for the home team when Nikola Mitrovic, playing arguably his best game in Israel fed a picture perfect pass to Eran Zahavi who headed it home for a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish with Eden Ben Basat scoring a fabulous BOMBA of a free kick in the 82nd minute sending the crowd into delirium and collecting the three points allowing MTA to move into 2nd place just behind Kiryat Shemona.

Beitar Jerusalem 1-1 Ashdod

Beitar Jerusalem played a home match at the Moshava Stadium in Petach Tikva last night in front of get this, OVER 8000 supporters! Unfortunately, Beitar was unable to take the 3 points from Ashdod and had to settle for a draw in a match that the “home” side dominated top to bottom. Beitar looked sharp and came into the game very hungry spreading it’s offense to both sides of the pitch which forced Ashdod manager Nir Klinger to make a number of tactical changes throughout the first half. Finally in the 37th minute Beitar was able to break through as midfielder Shlomi Azoulay was able to pick off the ball and take it to the Ashdod box make a perfect pass to Hanan Maman who slotted it home with ease to give the yellow and black a 1-0 lead.

Beitar Jerusalem coach Menachem Koretzky made the correct substitutions bringing in offensive fire power in Tomer Suissa in order to finish Ashdod off and pick up a 2nd goal that wold seal the deal. However, Ashdod had other plans when Klinger replaced injured Morad Abu Anze with David Solari who somehow was somehow able to put in a sloppily played ball in the box where Beitar ‘keeper Boris Kleiman made a terrific first save but the rebound was unable to be cleared by the Jerusalem defense and gave the two clubs a point a piece.

The draw left the Beitar faithful and owner Eli Tabib upset and disappointed as this was a match that was clearly one which the home team should have picked up maximum points.

Hapoel Raanana 1-1 Hapoel Beer Sheva

Beer Sheva and over 3000 supporters found their way to the Netanya stadium to watch their club come away with a disappointing 1-1 draw against the always dangerous Hapoel Rannana. Anthony Nwakaeme’s 18th minute goal gave the home side a first half lead as Dovev Gabbay’s penalty was saved by Arik Yanko. Elyaniv Barda the Beer Sheva captain was subbed out at halftime after injuring his groin and was replaced by a very quiet Shlomi Arbeitmen who did not produce any offense. Maor Melikson toed the game up on David Bar Natan’s 2nd penalty but was unable to convert a 3rd penalty opportunity as his miscalculated run and shot hit off the inside of the right post to help Raanana preserve the tie and pick up a point.

Hapoel Haifa 3-2 Maccabi Netanya

Netanya’s troubles continue after giving up a injury time goal to 10 man Hapoel Haifa as Reuven Atar picked up his first win of the season. Netanya opened up the scoring on an Tadas Kijankas own goal coming off an Eran Levy free kick. Haifa then scored two in row both coming on headers delivered by Or Ostaynd with the first being headed in by Kijanskas and the second by Gal Cohen. However, Cohen picked up a foolish second yellow card resulting in a red and him being sent off in the 70th minute allowing the visitors to tie it up on a Shimon Harush strike. But a pressing 10 man Haifa squad was able to steal the three points when Roei Shukrani slammed home the winner past Ariel Harush to the delight of the fans and to the dismay of Netanya manager Yossi Mizrachi.

Kiryat Shemona 3-0 Maccabi Petach Tikva

David Manga lifted a ball toward Shir Tzedek in the 43rd minute and it was redirected by Maccabi Petach Tikva player Joachim Mununga as Kiryat Shemona picked up a goal which turned out to be the game winner as the northern club shut out the up the visitors 3-0. Rodgers Kola and Ahed Azam scored the next two goals for Kiryat Shemona which will keep the team in first place for yet another week.

Hapoel Petach Tikva 4-1 Hapoel Akko

Hapoel Petach Tikva offered free admission for their match with Akko and the 7000 supporters who came out were not disappointed! The home side scored two quick goals by Shachar Hirsch & Guy Dayan in the first half and set the tone for a fun night out! Even though Akko closed the gap to 2-1 early in the 2nd half on a goal by Imaye Taga it took less than a minute for Prtach Tikva to regain a 2 goal lead as Shachar Hirsch scored his 2nd of the night. Youngster Dor Hugi finished off the rout with a 90 minute goal to send the fans home happy in euphoria for hopefully not the only time this season.

Bnei Sakhnin 1-1 Hapoel Tel Aviv

Up until the 89th minute it looked as if the sides were going to settle on a 0-0 draw and a split of the points. The points were divided except it happened only after a few final crazy minutes where Bnei Sakhnin took a lead on a beautiful Abraham Paz header but it was followed up by an own goal by Alaa Abu Salach just 2 minutes later to give Hapoel Tel Aviv a tie.

Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast October 14 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from October 14, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

The Sports Rabbi & Roy discussed the Israel National Team away wins over Cyprus & Andorra, who was hot & who was not! We also take a look ahead at this weekend’s games in the Ligat Ha’Al Football Israel with the match of the week featuring Maccabi Tel Aviv hosting Maccabi Haifa!

Make sure to tune in and check us out on iTunes!

Israel Collects 6 Out of 6 Points as They Prepare For Bosnia in November

Israel did exactly what they needed to do with their first two Euro 2016 qualifying matches which was to win both and take maximum points before their upcoming home clash against Bosnia at the brand new Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa next month.

Being carried on the back of Omer Damari’s hat trick, three goal performance Israel was able to make sure no shocking results were in the offing as the visitors defeated a game Andorra 4-1. Of course the match was not without a scare or two with Andorra equalizing on a penalty kick in the first half after Damari had opened the scoring in the second minute. 

Nir Biton the Celtic young stud replaced Sheran Yeini in the starting lineup and was called for a push in the box at the 15 minute mark which was more of a dive by the Andorran player. Biton, the inexperienced former U21 captain put his hands on the back of his opponent in the box who fell down as if he had been pushed off a cliff at full force. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned by the lanky midfielder as he has been tabbed to remain in Eli Gutman’s lineup next month to keep his hands behind his back and be very wary of contact in the box that may cost his team against better competition down the road.

Israel, now under a bit of pressure on the plastic surface in the Lego looking mini stadium seemed a bit rattled, but Damari again pulled his mates out of the fire as speedster Tal Ben Haim gave him a perfect pass to give his side a 2–1 lead before the half at minute 41. 

The second half saw Israel continue to apply pressure as the overmatched Andorra side began to falter. Omer Damari was able to complete his hat trick and striker Tomer Hemed scored a penalty as the match expired when the referee blew the final whistle to give Israel a 4-1 victory and six out of six points.

I don’t think Israel and coach Eli Gutman could have asked for much more in these two games. New National team ‘keeper Ofir Marchiano was as solid as could be, captain Tal Ben Haim, the defender led the troops on the pitch and the Maccabi Petach Tikva youth products Omer Damari & Tal Ben Haim excelled. 

All in all, Israel did this campaign what they couldn’t do last, which was to win the first two games and walk away with full points in what looks to be a topsy turvy group. 

Bosnia has disappointed this far with only 2 points in 3 matches as Wales leads the group with 7 points and Belgium sits with 4 points after two games. So it’s wide open with Israel primed to potentially take 9 points in 3 games should they defeat Bosnia at home. 

Eli Gutman could have not dreamed for a better scenario with qualification for a major tournament actually in his sights along with the rest of the country and supporters of Israel. 

However, the key will still be if Gutman will be able to manage his squad correctly when he faces the nest few matches Bosnia, Wales & Belgium all at home with the latter two taking place in March 2015. This is still my biggest fear. Not so much the abilities of the players which thankfully Israel seems to have some quality, but the actual preparation and then in game execution when under pressure from one of the three teams mentioned above. 

This will make or break the campaign and Eli Gutman surely knows it.

Israel Bags 3 Points in Cyprus But Question Marks Remain

Israel began their Euro 2016 Qualfying campaign on the right foot squeaking out a 2-1 victory in Nicosia, Cyprus on Friday night. Winger Tal Ben Chaim made all the difference for Israel assisting on Omer Damari’s goal and scoring one of his own using his skills to outclass the Cyprus defenders to help his side open up with 3 points before heading to their next match.

Israel plays in Andorra on Monday night and should chalk up another victory and claim 6 points before finally playing their first home match in Novermber against Bosnia in the new Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa. But of course they still have to play the games and Eli Gutman will need to prepare his team for the much harder encounters that they have down the road.

At times Friday night, Israel looked unbeatable, taking the game to Cyprus and controlling tempo for most of the 2nd half of the first half. However, Israel looked lost for much of the final 45 minutes not playing much offense and looking extremely tentative when they should have been out attacking after taking a 2-0 lead into the half.

And that’s where El Gutman’s role comes in to play. He had to send the right message to his players at halftime to continue applying pressure and put away the game, however it was anything but. Israel plodded along and were bailed out late in the match by an amazing Ofir Marchiano save as the ‘keeper stretched out to his right hand to knock away a sure goal for Cyprus. 

Gutman wasn’t sure what substitutions needed to be made and one could see his tentativeness, only pulling the trigger after Cyprus had cut the lead to 2-1 when he put on Itay Schecter a former favorite from their days at Hapoel Tel Aviv for goal scorer Omer Damari.

It then took him a long few minutes to finally insert Lior Refalov for man of the match Tal Ben Chaim which could have cost Israel big time as Cyprus was smelling blood. Where Cyprus couldn’t take advantage, teams like Belgium & Wales will make Gutman pay for his indecisiveness down the road and this is something the Israel boss must improve if this side has any designs of making it to Euro 2016.

Eran Zahavi had a number of good chances to score but came up short a few times on terrific balls from CSKA Moscow star Bibras Natcho who still has not made his mark for Israel as he has done at the club level. Defender Tal Ben Haim had a solid outing along with central defender partner Eytan Tibi in neutralizing the Cyprus attack time and time again. Eyal Meshumar, the right back had a busy night especially being active in the first half but was suspect on the Cyprus goal by not marking his man.

It should be interesting to see who Coach Gutman starts on Monday night where I suspect he may make wholesale changes in the midfield and up front by starting Tomer Hemed and Celtic midfielder Nir Biton. Gutman will need to find a way to get his midfield in sync with his forwards a bit more than we saw against Cyprus and Andorra should be a good test for this. 

Marchiano should remain the man between the pipes in order to get him some more International experience and I’m sure we’ll see the same defensive corps who did an excellent job at weathering the first 25 minutes of the match as Israel settled into their game.

But the question mark will remain as Israel’s real tests begin in November at home versus Bosnia and then in March when the host Wales and Belgium. Could Israel have 9 points before the end of 2014? Could be, but Gutman will need to find a way to ensure that his charges don’t fall asleep at the wheel and that he himself knows when to make the correct subsitutions, before the damage is done and not afterwards.

This may be his biggest test during the campaign.

Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast October 9 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

The Sports Rabbi & Roy preview the Israel National Team Euro 2016 Qualifying match against Cyprus in Nicosia as well as their game in Andorra Monday night!

Can The Sum of Israel’s Parts Defeat an Upstart Cyprus Squad

Israel begins its Euro 2016 campaign Friday night in Nicosia, Cyprus against an upstart Cyprus team who are coming into this match after a shock win over Bosnia last month. Playing in a group that also features the likes of Belgium & Wales, Israel will be tested in order to secure the 3rd position which would lead to the playoff berth in the expanded Euro field to play in France.

Many questions surround Eli Gutman and his team as he prepares his charges for two matches on 3 days that could determine Israel’s fate sooner rather than later. On paper Israel should take care of Cyprus without a problem considering the quality of players that play domestically in Israel or around Europe.

Players such as Tomer Hemed of Almeria, Omer Damari playing at Austria Wien, Bibras Natcho of CSKA Moscow or local players Eran Zahavi and Gili Vermut show class and skill that should easily take care of an overmatched Cyprus. However, after their big victory over Bosnia one can not discounts, nor should they discount the threat that exists not named Belgium, Wales or Bosnia, but Cyprus.

Nicosia will pack the GSP Stadium as the FA sold tickets at cut rate prices in order to fill it to the rafters and with APOEL playing admirably in the UEFA Champions League a sold out stadium is expected. The pressure will surely be in Israel and anything. Anything but a win may be disastrous.

Sure the players and coaches are saying all the right things. Cyprus is a dangerous foe, especially after already picking up 3 valuable points against the mighty Bosnia, a sold out stadium will be a tough environment, Israel’s still jelling together because they didn’t play last month. A draw wouldn’t be terrible, 4 points in two away matches would be great and all of the teams can win against any other. The quotes go on and on.

But let’s face it, Israel MUST take 6 points in these matches. They have NO CHOICE. A draw in either one of them will be a loss of 2 ever so important and valuable points in a super tough and even group.

On top of the pressure that certainly exists in the Israel camp, the goalkeeper controversy has kept the media snipping at the heals of all three candidates, Guy Haimov, Ofir Marchiano & incumbent Ariel Harush and the coaching staff for the last month.

Haimov plays for Kiryat Shemona and is a solid no frills ‘keeper. His skill set is above average and would be a sure bet to give Israel a certain stability in goal and has European experience playing in Cyprus just a few years ago. Marchiano has played exceptionally well for Ashdod but lacks international experience. Harush, who played for the National team back in the spring against Mexico and Honduras and the year before versus Germany, has the most experience. But he has not looked sharp in the Netanya goal after a long summer of arbitration when leaving Beitar Jerusalem and has had enough headaches the past year which seems to have impacted his play. However, Harush has intangibles that the other two do not have.

According to reports Marchiano was named first choice ‘keeper and Ariel Harush had an absolute fit, crashing into depression as he was knocked off his throne. What is really going on behind the scenes at the Israel camp is something that we are unsure of, but video released today shows an irate Eli Gutman reaming out his players prior to heading over to the island nation. All does not seem to be well at Israel camp which could lead to their downfall before the games begin. And that is the last thing that the Israel Football Association & Eli Gutman could want. On top of that, Maccabi Tel Aviv star Eran Zahavi was rushed to the hospital in Cyprus after falling ill.

Will coach Gutman be able to get his team together before Friday night? Will everyone be on the same page and can Israel put the sum of it’s parts together to win? Or will it look like a mess of a team on the GSP Stadium pitch blowing whatever Euro 2016 chances they had?

Those are the big questions facing Israel.

We shall find out Friday night in Cyprus.

Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast October 2 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from October 2, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

The Sports Rabbi & Roy talk Round 3 as Maccabi Tel Aviv & Hapoel Beer Sheva pick up where they left off last season as they had a barnburner of a match! Hapoel Tel Aviv wins at home as Beitar escapes with a draw in Akko! Maccabi Haifa welcomed Yossi Benayoun back to the Ligat ha’Al with a win & more!

Football Israel Ligat Ha’al Round 3 Goals And Hilights September 27-29 2014

Maccabi Tel Aviv & Hapoel Beer Sheva pick up where they left off last season as they had a barnburner of a match! Hapoel Tel Aviv wins at home as Beitar escapes with a draw in Akko! Maccabi Haifa welcomed Yossi Benayoun back to the Ligat ha’Al with a win & more!

CRAZY! That’s the only way to describe the match I witnessed first hand sitting with the Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters with my eldest son, Dov last night. Usually in the press box, I decided to venture into the away stands for the game and feel the pulse of the Maccabi supporters up close & personal.

The Sports Rabbi & Dov!

The Sports Rabbi & Dov!

The game started off in shocking fashion as Roie Gordana fed a marvelous through ball to Elyaniv Barda that the veteran striker slotted home perfectly to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. The horror began to set in over the Maccabi faithful but they quickly regained their momentum both in the stands and on the pitch as a certain goal by Maccabi was ruled to be offside by the embattled referee Ziv Adler despite protests by the Tel Aviv players.

The Blue & Yellow crowd by now was worked up into a frenzy as anti-ref chants were heard through the 3000K strong away supporters who traveled to the match. For most of the 1st half Maccabi continued to apply tons of pressure but couldn’t find the back of the goal leaving those same people shaking their heads in disbelief. As the middle aged man standing next to me said at half time, “here, Maccabi plays their best half of the season so far and has nothing to show for it!”

Maccabi looked determined to find the tying goal early in the second half and did just that as Eran Zahavi was questionably awarded a questionable penalty after being taken down in the box. Though he slipped while taking the shot from the spot he still was able to put it into the right side of the goal to help Maccabi draw even at one a piece.

As Maccabi continued to pour on the pressure one could feel the supporters getting more and more restless as the minutes ticked down. “Why hasn’t Pako made a sub?” said one as another lamented on the insecurity of Juan Pablo Colinas the Maccabi ‘keeper.

Eden Ben Basat in action-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv  Website

Eden Ben Basat in action-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Nails continued to be chewed as coach Ayestaran pulled off a slow & sluggish Eden Ben Bassat in favor of youngster Ben Reichert who injected immediate speed into the lineup. However, as we all waited for another substitute to be made by Ayestaran, Elyaniv Barda scored his 2nd of the match sending the Beer Sheva faithful into absolute delirium and setting back Maccabi yet again by a goal.

But hold on! Maccabi races down field as Dor Micha’s shot is blocked by the sprawling Beer Sheva ‘keeper Agedia and knocked directly to the oncoming Tal Ben Chaim who slams the ball home to make it 2-2. The exact opposite reactions that were felt 30 seconds earlier were now crossing the pitch as both sets of supporters and teams were perhaps close to pulling their hair out of their heads!

Tal Ben Chaim-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv  Website

Tal Ben Chaim-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

We hit the 88th minute and Maccabi coach Pako decides to go for the gold and takes off his central midfielder in Carlos Garcia who up that point had not been having one of his better matches and inserts striker Barak Badash. Pako gives up some defense to try and win the match. And then it happened.

Dovev Gabay the Beer Sheva striker runs down the right flank and sends in a pin point pass that Elyaniv Barda gets his head on and lofts it into the goal for the home side’s 3rd goal and his first hat trick in many, many years! Gal Alberman attempted to get his head onto the ball 1st and shoo it away but was out maneouvered by the aforementioned Barda who celebrated into the night.

The scenes shifted once again in the stands leaving people with blank stares in utter, utter shock. No one knew what had just hit them. As the Maccabi supporters headed for the exits I talked with one fan who said, “Wassermil is a terrible stadium. Not only to watch a match but also for Maccabi. It’s a good thing there will be a new stadium next year.” To that I said, Amen.

Maccabi Haifa 3-1 Hapoel Petach Tikva

Maccabi Haifa heated up after a shocking error by Dekel Keinan that gave the visitors a surprise 1-0 lead on a goal by Hasan Abu Ziad by scoring 3 unanswered goals of their own in front of over 25K supporters in Haifa. Hen Ezra, Alon Turgeman on a terrific passing play & Weam Amasha scored for Haifa to win in Yossi Benayoun’s debut back in Green.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 Hapoel Haifa

The Reds took full advantage of playing in front of their home crowd and demolished an overmatched Haifa side 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium. Gili Vermut starred for Tel Aviv scoring a goal & assisting on Shoval Gozlan’s first goal in a red uniform since coming over from Maccabi Haifa in the offseason. Lucas “Sasha” Pacheco scored the third goal for HTA as Dani Amos was able to keep a clean sheet near the end of the match by making a big save off a Steven Cohen chance.

Hapoel Akko 1-1 Beitar Jerusalem

The visiting yellow and black Beitar Jerusalem came out strong as Eli Dasa scored after just 8 minutes as he picked the pocket of the Akko defender and slotted home the ball low to the left side of the keeper. But the second half saw a fine showing by Akko as they continued attack after attack as they finally drew even off a beauty of a free kick that Hamdi Salihi headed into the far corner. Akko continued to apply pressure to a tiring Beitar and looked to have scored the go ahead goal but was incorrectly ruled offside by the referee and gifted a point to the visitors.

Maccabi Netanya 1-2 Kiryat Shemona

Netanya took a quick 1-0 lead by the 5th minute as Eran Levy placed a perfect corner kick to Omer Tchalisher who headed it home to the close side of the goal. But the visiting Kiryat Shemona club drew even off a Netanya error as David Manga gave Ofir Mizrachi a perfect ball to score on. David Manga again was the central figure as he placed a perfect corner that Kassio Fernandes was able to head in and score the winning goal on leaving the home side shaking their heads in disgust.

Ashdod 2-2 Bnei Sakhnin

Ashdod took a 2-0 lead on goals by Niv Zrihan & Morad Abu Anze but Bnei Sakhnin didn’t go down easily. The visiting side picked up two goals in the span of five minutes with Greece native Ioannis Papadopoulos scoring his 2nd goal of the season and Muhamed Ghadir picking up the tying score as the sides split the points. Ashdod owner Jackie Ben Zaken did not charge the close to 5000 fans that came to the Ashdod stadium as tickets were given away free and will be for a number of matches this season.

Maccabi Petach Tikva 3-2 Hapoel Raanana

Petach Tikva manager Ran Ben Shimon had to coach his club from the stands this match due to a suspension but it didn’t seem to matter as his home side picked up 3 points against a tough opponent in Raanana. Maccabi scored the first 3 goals of the game with a Guy Melamed header to start things off, a Moshiko Lugassi goal coming in as a substitute in the 2nd half and Bulgarian striker Kostadin Huzurov scoring the third. However, Haim Silvas’s club did not go down easy getting goals by Anthony Nwakaeme & a Mamadou Thiam penalty, but it was not enough as the home team picked up all three points.