The Yellow & Blue needed a Dor Peretz own goal midway through the first half along with magnificent play by keeper Predrag Rajikovic to collect the victory and 3-points to pull them into a tie with Hapoel Beer Sheva atop the table. Next week, Maccabi opens up the Championship Playoffs at home against Bnei Sakhnin on Matchday 27.
Highlights: Maccabi TLV – Hapoel Haifa, MD26
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Head Coach Lito Vidigal Starting Xi included Serbian keeper Predrag Rajikovic with a defensive quartet of Eli Dasa, Tal Ben Haim, Eitan Tibi and Captain Sheran Yeini. Gal Alberman was in the defensive midfielder’s position while Ruben Micael and Dor Micha played beside him as Oscar Scarione, Barakl Itzhaki and Vidar Kjartansson provided the attack.
Available on the bench for the Angolan boss were keeper Daniel Lifshitz, Avi Rikan, Yossi Benayoun, Marcelo dos Santos, Aaron Schoenfeld, Egor Filipenka and Sagiv Yehezkel
Maccabi Tel Aviv came out with all of their cylinders clicking as they looked for a quick goal and in the 3rd minute Alberman’s long blast missed the target while Scarione’s 7th minute free kick found the Haifa wall.
In the 22nd minute, Scarione’s ball from the left tried to find Itzhaki to no avail. However, just two minutes later, the Yellow & Blue would break through thanks to an own ago by none other than Dor Peretz. The youngster who is on loan to Hapoel Haifa from Maccabi attempted to clear the ball via a header but it found the back of the goal instead giving the hosts a 1:0 lead.
Scarione tried to double his side’s advantage, but his 18-meter screamer just missed the target in the 29th minute while Haifa almost found the equalizer two minutes later when a double pass between Eden Ben Basat and Haim Margashvili ended with the latter’s effort just going by the post. Ben Basat then headed the ball towards the Maccabi goal in the 35th minute, but Rajikovic made the save while ten minutes later the Serbian shot stopper was up to the task yet again making an amazing instinctive save off of a Peretz scorcher.
Haifa looked to find the tying goal and did almost that in the 47th minute as Maccabi lost the ball in the middle of the pitch but Hanan Maman and Maharan Lala couldn’t find the target while ten minutes later, Head Coach Vidigal made his first substitute of the contest as Yossi Benayoun entered the fray in favor of Itzhaki.
Eli Dasa picked up a yellow card in the 63rd minute as Maccabi’s game began to pick up the pace. However, as the match hit the 72nd minute, Rajikovic made a brilliant diving stop off of a Maman chance in the box as Haifa inched closer and closer to an equalizing goal. Vidigal made his second sub of the evening as he inserted Aaron Schoenfeld for Vidar Kjartansson in the 77th minute.
Two minute later, Dasa lost track of the ball as Edilson’s shot was collected by an alert Rajikovic. In the 82nd minute, Scarione gave Micha a nice ball as number 15 sent a beauty of cross into the box that Benayoun just missed as the score remained as is.
Maccabi’s 3rd substitute saw Marcelo dos Santos come on for Dor Micha in the 89th minute and picked up a yellow card just before the referee blew the final whistle as the Yellow & Blue walked away with a 1:0 win and draw even with Hapoel Beer Sheva atop the table.