Local neighbour from the "Tikva" district, Bnei Yehuda, continued last night to make life difficult for their bigger city rival, but Maccabi Tel Aviv came back from an early two goal deficit to earn a draw at Bloomfield Stadium

Maccabi Tel Aviv entered last night's encounter with their smaller Tel Aviv rival, Bnei Yehuda, knowing that a victory would increase their lead at the top of the Israeli Premier League table to a seemingly unassailable twelve points. And once again fans of both clubs were witness to a match with entertaining performances, goals and in particular plenty of drama as Maccabi found themselves two goals down after just 24 minutes of play courtesy of goals from Ádám Hrepka and Gil Yitschak. In response Maccabi Tel Aviv, playing in blue, put their foot on the gas pedal and by half time had drawn level through a brace by midfielder Eran Zahavi. In the second half hosts Bnei Yehuda showed signs of tiring and Maccabi once again took control of events in midfield, but could not produce the goal to break the gridlock. So it now moves on to next week's encounter with Hapoel Ramat Hasharon to see if Maccabi Tel Aviv can return the championship silverware to Kiryat Shalom after an absence of a decade. A win there, and a corresponding Maccabi Haifa defeat, would make it official.

The first opportunity of the game belonged to Maccabi's young midfielder, Moshe Lugassi, who after six minutes fired a free kick from the edge of the area that hit the near post of Bnei Yehuda keeper Bamidele Aiyenugba's goal. Seven minutes later Bnei Yehuda's Hungarian striker Ádám Hrepka found himself unmarked in the area and bounced a cross by Serbian forward Nenad Marinković past the Maccabi defence into the net to give the home side a 1-0 advantage. Maccabi striker Eliran Atar tried to bring his side back into the match with an acutely angled shot that Aiyenugba palmed away for a corner. But on 24 minutes it was Bnei Yehuda who were on the scoreboard again when Gil Yitschak lunged for a cross by midfielder Ness Zamir in front of goal and glanced a header past keeper Vincent Enyeama into the far corner of the Maccabi net. For Bnei Yehuda's young striker, who is currently the leading scorer of the Israeli Youth Premier League, this was his first goal in the top flight and against the league's top club into the bargain.

At this stage the more than 8,000 Maccabi Tel Aviv fans were in shock to see their side two goals down with barely a half an hour on the clock, but midfielder Eran Zahavi had no intention of letting their discomfort last any longer than necessary. Ten minutes after Bnei Yehuda's second, fellow midfielder Dor Micha found him free with a cross into the area and the former Hapoel Tel Aviv player rounded his marker and fired high into Aiyenugba's net to narrow the home side's margin to 2-1. Two minutes later Zahavi raced ahead of Bnei Yehuda's last defence and found himself alone in front of goal against Aiyenugba, but the Bnei Yehuda keeper managed to get a hand on the midfielder's chip. But three minutes from half time Dor Micha threaded a pass through to striker Rade Prica, who back-heeled it for Zahavi to strike from outside the area past the Nigerian Aiyenugba to bring Maccabi level. In the one minute of injury time, Bnei Yehuda's Yitschak collected the deflection of his own strike from close range but his second effort was saved in spectacular fashion by Maccabi keeper Vincent Enyeama.

After the restart the tempo of the game slowed somewhat, with the tiring defences on both sides allowing the ball to move freely in midfield from one end of the pitch to the other. Maccabi's Atar and Micha threatened the home side's goal, while at the other end Maccabi keeper Vincent Enyeama came up with two more spectacular saves from midfielder Oz Rali and Nenad Marinković. Eleven minutes from time Maccabi defender Sheran Yeini received his fifth yellow card of the season stopping the opposition on the break, which will make him ineligible to play in a fortnight's time at Maccabi Haifa's Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. But at the final whistle the scoreboard had remained unchanged, earning Maccabi Tel Aviv their second draw of the play-offs and maintaining their 10 point lead at the top of the table ahead of Maccabi Haifa, who drew by the same score against Hapoel Tel Aviv.