Tal Ben Chaim scored twice against his old club as Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Maccabi Petach Tikva 3-0 in Netanya. Eran Zahavi scored in his 17th consecutive match
Maccabi Tel Aviv got their second round of Israeli Premier League matches off to a flying start by repeating their 3-0 opening-day victory over Maccabi Petach Tikva. After a fifteen-minute delay due to traffic congestion on the roads leading to Netanya Stadium where the match was held, both sides began the match cautiously and play focused on the centre of the pitch. Maccabi Petach Tikva got off the first shot after 19 minutes, but defender Dedi Ben Dayan's effort from outside the area flew high over keeper Barak Levy's net. Just under the half hour mark midfielder Eran Zahavi opened the scoring for the home side with his 16th goal of the season, heading in a splendid cross from fellow midfielder Nikola Mitrovic. Zahavi has now scored in seventeen consecutive league matches, surpassing the sixteen recorded by Bayern Munich's former great Gerd Müller. Until the break, winger Tal Ben Chaim saw a chance go wide and a second Nikola Mitrovic cross on goal returned to the path of midfielder Dor Micha, who had his subsequent shot blocked by Petach Tikva keeper Zahi Gigi at the edge of the area. But at half time just the single goal separated the two sides.
Moments after the restart though Tal Ben Haim doubled the home side's advantage after being sent through on goal by Eran Zahavi and completed his brace less than ten minutes later after finding space on the right of the area with a Dor Micha pass and striking once again past Gigi for 3-0. On 69 minutes he almost had his hat-trick after escaping two markers in front of goal to bring down a long ball by Nikola Mitrovic but his finish dribbled wide. Seven minutes from time Eran Zahavi volleyed a Dor Micha pass onto the crossbar. But at the final whistle the score remained 3-0, bringing Maccabi Tel Aviv all three points and keeping them just two points behind league leaders Kiryat Shmona.
Next week Maccabi Tel Aviv will return to Netanya, this time to play away to Hapoel Ra'anana.
photographs – Nir Keider