Maccabi Tel Aviv finish their away tie against Ironi Kiryat Shmona drawn at 2-2
For their third top-six playoff tie, Maccabi Tel Aviv travelled north to play Ironi Kiryat Shmona, where last January they lost their last league game 3-1. Ten minutes into the match, with Maccabi putting Kiryat Shmona goalkeeper Guy Haimov under pressure, midfielder Dor Micha tried his luck but his shot was off-target. Two minutes later winger Tal Ben Haim crossed back into the area for Barak Badash but the ex-Kiryat Shmona striker couldn't quite get his foot to the ball. At the other end, Kiryat Shmona's Zambian striker Rodgers Kola let an opportunity go begging when his free kick went well wide of Maccabi keeper Juan Pablo's goal.
The second half saw considerably more pace in the game and five minutes after the restart Maccabi captain Sheran Yeini crossed into the area for Barak Badash, whose header went wide. Four minutes later Maccabi defender Omri Ben Harush made good work of controlling a ball just to the left of the net but Haimov was there to send his attempt behind the goal for a Maccabi corner. Just past the hour mark the Maccabi pressure paid off when Kiryat Shmona's Brazilian defender Kassio Fernades brought down midfielder Gal Alberman just outside the area and fellow midfielder Eran Zahavi curled a pin-point free kick into the net beyond the reach of Haimov to put his side ahead 0-1. But just four minutes later Kiryat Shmona were on level terms when defender Oded Elkayam broke down the right flank and released a low ball into the area that careened off Maccabi defender Carlos Garcia's foot into the path of midfielder Adrian Rochet, who volleyed past Juan Pablo to restore parity at 1-1. Seven minutes after that Kiryat Shmona's Central African Republic striker David Manga charged in from the right and struck beyond Juan Pablo who had strayed far off his line, but his shot was cleared by an alert Carlos Garcia. Nine minutes from time Tal Ben Haim tried to put Maccabi out in front but after a determined personal effort the winger's shot found Haimov at the ready. But just a minute later a clever pass from Sheran Yeini found Dor Micha in space down the right and his cross back into the area met Eran Zahavi, who volleyed accurately past Haimov into the top right-hand corner of the net. That restored Maccabi's lead to 1-2, but once again it lasted only briefly and six minutes from time Kiryat Shmona were once again level. A misjudged back pass from the Maccabi defence rolled beyond Juan Carlos and was alertly swept past him by substitute striker Wiyam Amasha. Defender Eytan Tibi tried in vain to clear the ball off the line and it bounced into the net to set the final score at 2-2.
Maccabi Tel Aviv return home to Bloomfield Stadium next Sunday at 8.50pm to host Maccabi Haifa in top-six playoff week 4 of the Israeli Premier League.
Photographs – Nir Keider