Maccabi Tel Aviv opened the Ligat Winner season on the right foot with a 3:2 win over Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. In three days Maccabi will host FC Basel in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff round
The Yellow-and-Blue couldn't have asked for a better start to the season as star captain Eran Zahavi had a hand in all three goals, scoring the first and third for Maccabi while his free kick set up Tal Ben Chaim's rebound goal good for three points.
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However, it was Bnei Sakhnin that took a shock lead in the 11th minute as Brazilian Minto Pauliniho "Jorginho" scored to make it 0:1 for the visitors. But as usual it was the captain Eran Zahavi in the 23rd minute that pulled Maccabi even tying up the game at 1:1 as the sides headed into halftime all knotted up.
The second half saw Maccabi make a number of substitutions replacing Vermouth and Itzhaki for Edan Ben Bassat and Tal Ben Chaim in the 60th minute as the moves would pay off just moments later. Zahavi's free kick in the 68th minute hit the Sakhnin wall as Ben Chaim pounced on the rebound to give Tel Aviv a 2:1 lead that they would not relinquish.
In the 81st minute Dor Peretz sent a deep ball right to Zahavi who didn't waste any time to give the Yellow-and-Blue a 3:1 lead. Nikola Mitrovic picked up a red card in the 87th minute after provocation by Sakhnin captain Haled Halayla and ten-man Maccabi would give up a late goal to striker Weam Amsha to cut the lead to 3:2.
All would end well though as Maccabi weathered the flurry in the final minutes by Sakhnin to pick up the three points as they head into the return leg against Basel on Tuesday night.