In Barak Itzhaki’s final match as an active player and Jordi Cruyff’s last home match as coach, Maccabi Tel Aviv took home a 3:1 win to move into second place on the Israel Premier League Ligat Ha’Al table with just one Matchday remaining. Three first half goals by Avi Rikan, Ofir Davidzada and Nick Blackman via a penalty sewed up the win as Tal Kahila scored for Beitar Jerusalem.
Jordi Cruyff’s last home match Starting XI featured keeper Predrag Rajikovic in goal along with Eli Dasa, Jean-Sylvain Babin, Tal Ben Haim, Ofir Davidzada, Dor Peretz, Sheran Yeini, Eyal Golasa, Avi Rikan, Nick Blackman and Vidar Kjartansson.
Available on the bench were keeper Daniel Tenenbaum, Omer Atzily, Aaron Schoenfeld, Gidi Kanuk, Eitan Tibi, Dor Micha and Barak Itzhaki who was playing in his last match before retiring.
Maccabi took control of the pace of play early on and in the 4’ Dasa sent the ball to Yeini, but his tough angled shot went out for a corner while two minutes later Beitar had their opening chance of the contest when Siroshstein’s header went out. However, the next chance the Yellow & Blue had they put the ball behind the visiting keeper Stav Shushan.
Golasa began a break downfield when he found Ben Haim who in turn handed the ball off to Rikan on the right wing as the midfielder went a blazing shot into the left hand corner of the goal for a 1:0 Maccabi lead in the 7’. Rikan almost recorded a brace two minutes later but Shushan was in place while Peretz’s attempt to double the lead in the 11’ just came up short.
Rikan’s 14’ minute opportunity off a give and go with Dasa was also saved by Shushan and one minute later Rajikovic had to be alert to stop Yakov Brihen’s attempt. Rikan continued to be active with chances in the 20’, 24’ & 25’ but Shushan made the save each time to keep Maccabi at bay.
But Beitar couldn’t keep the Yellow & Blue off the scoresheet for too long as Davidzada took a Golasa pass to beat Shushan and give Maccabi a 2:0 lead in the 31’. Blackman was then pulled down by Shushan in the box earning himself a yellow card and handing Maccabi a penalty kick from 11 meters which the Englishman scored to give the Yellow & Blue a 3:0 lead after 37’.
Beitar replaced Shushan with Boris Kleyman to begin the second half as Kjartansson tested the new keeper early on but he was up to the task and in 55’ Vidar again threatened the Beitar goal once again but Tal Kahila cleared the ball away from danger.
Barak Itzhaki entered the match for the final time as an active player to a standing ovation as he replaced Nick Blackman in the 59’ as Sheran Yeini handed the captain’s armband to the striker. Gidi Kanuk came on for Rikan three minutes later but Beitar then pulled a goal back when Kahila took a Jakub Sylvestr pass from the right side and beat a diving Rajikovic to cut the Maccabi lead to 3:1.
Vidar’s tough angled attempt in the 64’ was parried away by Kleyman while Kanuk’s long distance scorcher from 30’ meters went over the bar in the 69’. Omer Atzily entered the match in the 77’ for Vidar Kjartansson as Cruyff’s third substitution. Atzily and Itzhaki’s give and go in the 83’ minute came up empty. Sykvetr’s attempt hit Dasa’s hand good for a Beitar penalty but Rajikovic made the key save off of Arik Sabo’s spot kick as Maccabi Tel Aviv moved into second place with the win.