Maccabi came from a goal down to beat Hapoel Petach Tikva 1-3 at the “Moshava” Stadium courtesy of a Zahavi brace and an individual gem by Mahran Radi

In a match almost entirely dominated by the visiting side, Maccabi Tel Aviv returned from conceding an early goal to beat Hapoel Petach Tikva 1-3 at the “Moshava” Stadium courtesy of an Eran Zahavi brace and a splendid individual goal by midfielder Mahran Radi. Maccabi head coach Pako Ayestaran made five changes to the side that drew 1-1 last week at “Sammy Ofer”, and five minutes in the visitors found themselves on the wrong end of a one-goal deficit. On-loan Hapoel Petach Tikva striker Shahar Hirsh collected a long ball ahead of his marker down the left and fired past Maccabi keeper Juan Pablo to give the home side a surprising 1-0 advantage. The lead survived an effort by striker Barak Badash in the 10th minute, who saw his shot from inside the area blocked by Petach Tikva keeper Kale Dreshler. Fifteen minutes later though midfielder Mahran Radi, returning to the first eleven for the first time since October 20th, drew his side level after receiving a pass from fellow midfielder Dor Micha and curling it from the edge of the area into the upper corner of Kale Dreshler’s net. The 1-1 stalemate lasted until a minute before the break when midfielder Eran Zahavi gave the visitors a 1-2 lead, scoring in his 17th consecutive match from just inside the area after receiving a lovely cross from captain Sheran Yeini on the right.

In the second half Maccabi head coach sent on Barak Levy to replace keeper Juan Pablo in goal after the Spaniard felt a recurrence of the injury that has kept him sidelined for three matches in recent weeks. The balance of the game remained unchanged though as Maccabi had two good chances early on, first with Radi nearly finding Zahavi in front of goal and Dor Micha once again seeing a shot narrowly slapped on to the crossbar by the opposition keeper. Thereafter the pace of the game slowed considerably and Maccabi’s third goal waited until the 77th minute when substitute winger Tal Ben Chaim was brought down in the area by Nigerian defender Chimezie Mbah. Eran Zahavi coolly stepped up to the spot and wrong-footed Kale Dreshler for his 15th goal of the season.

That ended the scoring at 1-3 and Maccabi return to winning ways with three valuable points in their last encounter of the first round of Israeli Premier League fixtures. This Wednesday December 17th Maccabi Tel Aviv will return to the "Moshava" Stadium for their "Toto" (League) Cup semi-final encounter with Hapoel Haifa.