Injury brace beats Hapoel Jerusalem 3-1
Ranked fourth in the table with 28 points from 17 matches, Maccabi arrived at Teddy Stadium ahead of the Hapoel Jerusalem game in a bid to continue their good form. Mladen Krstajic’s side recorded a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Be’ersheva at Bloomfield last week, followed by a State Cup penalty shoot-out victory over Kiryat Shmona in midweek.
Suspensions and injuries have forced Krstajic to make several changes to his squad as the Serbian coach seeks his third straight win. Daniel Peretz, whose penalty save helped Maccabi through, kept his place in goal with Matan Baltaxa and Idan Nachmias lined up just ahead of him. The hamstring injury Enric Saborit suffered at Kiryat Shmona meant Ofir Davidzada filled the left-back position with Andre Geraldes completing the back-four on the right. Avi Rikan, who scored a spectacular late equalizer at Kiryat Shmona, led the team with the captain’s armband as Dan Glazer served a one-game ban on the touchline. Eden Shamir, who has recently enjoyed a spell of good form and was also suspended, has been replaced in the midfield engine room by Eyal Golasa. Dan Biton, who made a second-half appearance at Kiryat Shmona and scored one of the penalty kicks, returned to the starting lineup. While Gabi Kanichowsky and Brandley Kuwas were both appointed by Krstajic to support Osama Khalaila who led the attack aimed at building on last week’s game-winning goal he scored against Be’ersheva. Eduardo Guerrero, who ended his two-match suspension he received after the Haifa defeat, and Luis Hernandez, who recovered from illness, returned to the squad and waited for their chance to bring their contribution.
The cold and rainy weather conditions that hosted Maccabi at Teddy Stadium did not deter Mladen Krstajic’s side from starting the game with pressure on Hapoel Jerusalem. It didn’t take long for Maccabi to seize their first chance in the 8th minute as Avi Rikan clipped the ball for Brandly Kuwas who fired his shot high over the crossbar. In what appeared to be a carbon copy of the previous move two minutes earlier, Oussama Khalaila missed Ofir Davidzada’s square ball as Maccabi wasted another scoring chance.
In the 24th minute, Kuwas was more accurate as he unleashed a left-footed shot from the edge of the box which forced Adebayo Adeleye into a double save to deny the Curacao international. Hapoel Jerusalem coach Ziv Ariye was forced to make a substitution shortly before the half-hour mark as Guy Hadida limped and was replaced by former Maccabi midfielder Ruslan Barsky. Within a minute the hosts had their first chance on goal when Yao Koffi fed Guy Badash who fired a flashing shot past Daniel Peretz’s goal.
The stalemate was finally broken in the 38th minute when Rikan kicked Dan Biton into the box before beating Adeleye with a pinpoint shot into the bottom corner.
Maccabi nearly doubled the score two minutes later but a misunderstanding between Kuwas and Khalaila two minutes later did not result in a shot on target. The duel between Kuwas and Adeleye continued in the 41st minute as the Jerusalem keeper managed to stop the Maccabi winger’s powerful long-range shot.
Mladen Krstajic made no change on the restart but after an indifferent 15 minutes in which neither side created a single scoring chance, Maccabi nearly doubled the score. A poor clearance from a Jerusalem defender just on the hour mark fell on Rikan who curled a shot from the edge of the box that sailed over the crossbar. A minute later, Khalaila had two chances to score but his initial shot was saved by Adeleye before the young striker blew the rebound high and wide.
Krstajic responded with a triple substitution as Eyal Golasa, Kuwas and Khalaila were replaced in the 65th minute by Matan Hozez, Eylon Almog and Eduardo Guerrero.
By the 73rd minute however, Jerusalem were back level as substitute Idan Shemesh rose above the Maccabi defense to head in a Badash corner past Daniel Peretz who let the ball slip through his hands.
Ido Shahar replaced Rikan in the 77th minute as Krstajic added a fresh pair of legs for the closing stages. But in the 83rd minute, Maccabi were reduced to 10 men for the final minutes in controversial circumstances as referee Aviad Shiloah mistakenly issued Hozez a yellow card after he was fouled by Badash, while only a minute later the winger was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Despite being shorthanded, Maccabi pushed forward and looked more dangerous, but in the 90th minute Guerrero wasted a chance by unleashing a shot over the bar instead of passing to one of his teammates who were better off. However, in injury time, Gabi Kanichowsky restored Maccabi’s lead with a powerful low drive that beat Adeleye from the edge of the box. Two minutes later, Ido Shahar sealed the victory with a shot that deflected past a defender to misstep the keeper and make it 3-1.