The Yellow-and-Blue picked up three valuable points against Netanya at the Moshava Stadium as Eden Ben Basat, Eran Zahavi and Tal Ben Chaim all scored in the 3:1 away victory.
Head Coach Peter Bosz made a couple of changes to his starting lineup from last match against Hapoel Kfar Saba in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals.
Dor Micha received the starting nod in place of winger Tal Ben Chaim as did central defender Carlos Garcia for Omri Ben Harush who was out due to yellow card accumulation. Rounding out the defense in front of Serbian keeper Predrag Rajikovic was Eli Dasa, Avi Rikan and Eitan Tibi. In the midfield was Gal Alberman, Nosa Igiebor and Haris Medunjanin with Eden Ben Basat, Captain Eran Zahavi and Micha providing the attack.
After a quiet opening ten minutes, Maccabi finally broke the deadlock when Ben Basat received a terrific ball from Medunjanin and put his effort right by a
helpless Barak Levi to give the Yellow-and-Blue a 1:0 lead. Netanya tried to even the score up in the 20th minute but an alert Rajikovic was able to make a last second save and tip the ball over the bar for a corner kick to maintain the one goal lead.
Just minutes later, Medunjanin took a Micha ball, swung around in the box but put his opportunity just wide right of the goal. Zahavi had a pair of chances to double the lead but his first effort was saved by Levi and the second from 25 meters out went wide of the goal. Iso Lingana’s long shot went over the goal as the Yellow-and-Blue took the slim 1:0 lead into the break.
The start of the second half saw Netanya looking for the equalizer and it took them only three minutes to get it. With the home side putting immense pressure on Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 48th minute, Milan Smiljanic sent Saar Benbenishti a fantastic ball in the box that he headed behind the Serbian keeper to draw Netanya even at 1:1.
With the score back to square one, Coach Bosz made a tactical substitution in the 55th minute introducing winger Tal Ben Chaim for goal scorer Ben Basat. And what would you know, the change would pay dividends soon thereafter. In the 61st minute, Dor Micha raced down the right side, sent the ball to Medujanin whose effort on goal was saved by Levi but Zahavi was in the right place at the right time to slam home the rebound to take a 2:1 lead.
Netanya didn’t give up hope as the Diamond City side looked to draw even once again as a Gael Margolis 17 meter chance was blocked by Rajikovic while Smiljanic’s opportunity went just wide left of the goal. On the other side of the pitch, Maccabi looked to increase their advantage. Medunjanin’s 76th minute free kick was saved by Levi, Zahavi’s corner was cleared a minute later and Ben Chaim found Zahavi in the box but the captain couldn’t find the handle on the ball as the score remained 2:1 as the match entered the final ten minutes.
Finally in the 84th minute Maccabi found their third goal of the evening. Dor Micha sent Ben Chaim a ball right into the box as number 11 turned Levi inside out and slotted it home for the 3:1 lead as the Yellow-and-Blue collected the three points as they head into their Matchday 24 clash against Hapoel Haifa on Saturday February 20th at 17:00.