The Yellow-and-Blue picked up three valuable points as Eli Dasa’s first half strike was the difference maker in a 1:0 victory over Bnei Yehuda on a beautiful night for football in Tel Aviv.
Head Coach Peter Bosz changed up his lineup a bit as the Dutchman went for a more offensive starting XI than had been seen in the recent past. Striker Orlando Sa made his first start as a member of the Yellow-and-Blue up front with captain Eran Zahavi playing just behind him. Winger Tal Ben Chaim and Dor Micha played beside Zahavi as Nosa Igiebor and Haris Medunjanin anchored the midfield. In front of Serbian keeper Predrag Rajikovic, a defensive quartet of Avi Rikan, Eli Dasa, Eitan Tibi and Carlos Garcia graced the pitch.
After ten minutes of both sides checking each other out, Maccabi had the first three chances of the match. Micha’s 13th minute opportunity went way wide of Dele Aiyenugba’s goal, Ben Chaim’s attempt went just by the post and Zahavi’s effort was picked off by the Bnei Yehuda keeper.
Gal Zroya produced the host’s first chance of the match but his shot missed the target as the game headed into the 20th minute goalless. Micha then sent Zahavi a ball in the box but he missed the golden opportunity to take the lead, while Ben Chaim also sent a deep ball from the right side that Zahavi headed to Igiebor but his effort also missed the mark.
As the match entered the 30th minute, out of nowheres right back Eli Dasa unleashed a low shot from 30 meters out that scooted by Aiyenugba and into the goal for a 1:0 lead in favor of the Yellow-and-Blue.
With Maccabi now brimming with confidence Igiebor tried to double their lead but his 17 meter effort went off of a Bnei Yehuda player and out for a corner kick while his 20 meter scorcher just minutes later went over the goal and into the stands. Zahavi would have a marvelous free kick opportunity in the 42nd minute but his ball went out as the two sides headed into the break with Maccabi holding a 1:0 lead.
The second half began with the Yellow-and-Blue trying to find an insurance goal. Dasa’s 52nd minute attempt was pushed aside by Aiyenugba while Zahavi’s sitter went wide. In the 58th minute Micha sent Zahavi a deep ball in the box but the Bnei Yehuda keeper was able to frustrate number 7 yet again as he swiped the ball away from the captain.
Both sides made wholesale substitutions as Gal Alberman was introduced for Igiebor and Yuval Shpungin came on for a banged up Rikan. However, it would be Bnei Yehuda’s substitutes who almost found the back of the goal. Almog Bozaglo who had just entered the match for Amir Agaiev had a magnificent header opportunity in front of Rajikovic but he put the ball right over the goal.
With the Yellow-and-Blue visitors still in search of a second goal, Zahavi’s wonderful low opportunity was pushed aside by Aiyenugba as Head Coach Peter Bosz made his third and final substitute bringing in Dor Peretz for Orlando Sa in the 79th minute. Zahavi was stymied once more and had his 86th minute effort just deflected away for a corner by Aiyenugba as Maccabi kept looking for the elusive second goal.
Rajikovic swatted away a late Bnei Yehuda corner kick chance and helped his side collect the three points and move to within two points of table leaders Hapoel Beer Sheva. Maccabi will now ready themselves for a midweek second leg quarterfinal State Cup match at Bloomfield Stadium against Hapoel Kfar Saba who they also face in league action next week as well.