Eran Zahavi scored the lone goal of the match in the 80th minute off of a text book double pass with Portuguese striker Orlando Sa to pick up the valuable three points and the win prior to facing Beer Sheva next week in a crucial top of the table battle for first place.
Head Coach Peter Bosz made a couple of changes to his usual Starting XI as Yuval Shpungin was given an opportunity at left defensive back for the Yellow-and-Blue. Joining him in front of keeper Predrag Rajikovic were Eli Dasa, Eitan Tibi and Carlos Garcia. Gal Alberman and Haris Mendunjanin manned the midfield while just behind striker Orlando Sa was an attacking trio of Dor Micha, Tal Ben Chaim and Captain Eran Zahavi.
Maccabi had the first couple of attempts in the match when Alberman’s 10th minute effort sailed just over Mohamad Kandil’s goal while Zahavi’s 24th minute chance was stopped cold by Sakhnin defender Alla Abu Salah to keep the game goalless.
Following a pair of yellow cards handed out by referee Liran Liani to Sakhnin keeper Kandil and Maccabi striker Sa, Micha’s 41st minute opportunity was snagged by the visitors shot stopper as the teams headed into the break deadlocked at 0:0.
Tibi opened up the second half with a scorcher of a 25 meter shot that just whistled by the Sakhnin goal while going the other direction Firas Mugrabi’s effort went out of play as both sides continued to look for the first goal of the match.
Yellow-and-Blue coach Bosz made a double substitution in the 68th minute introducing Barak Itzhaki and Shlomi Azulay for Micha and Alberman as the Dutchman looked to get his club on the scoreboard. For the visitors, Head coach Yossi Abuksis countered taking off Mugrabi for Haled Halayla as Sakhnin attempted to keep the score as is and pick up a valuable point in the Championship Playoffs.
However, that was before the Captain had the last word, as number 7 worked his magic yet again for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Eran Zahavi and Orlando Sa played a perfect give-and-go on the left side of the box in the 80th minute as the league’s leading goal scorer sent the ball right into the Sakhnin goal to give the defending champions the 1:0 lead and the win.
The victory sets up a top of the table battle next week at Turner Stadium on Matchday 28 against Hapoel Beer Sheva as the Yellow-and-Blue currently sit in first place due to a superior goal differential.