Maccabi Tel Aviv secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hapoel Kiryat Shmona as the TASE Premier League returned from a three-week break on Saturday and maintained their place at the top of the standings. The club have now completed 11 games since the start of the season and have yet to concede a goal, a new record. 

But the clean sheet teetered on the brink in the fourth minute after a tentative start by Maccabi as referee Daniel Bar Natan initially awarded a penalty to Kiryat Shmona after Maccabi defender Eitan Tibi slid in for a tackle as Ismail Rayan ran into the area on the left and fell forward. A subsequent VAR check found that there was no contact between Tibi and Rayan and the penalty was annulled, allowing goalkeeper Daniel Tenenbaum and his teammates to see out the 10 minutes needed to surpass the old record of 1,002 minutes without conceding a goal set by Maccabi Haifa’s Giora Antman in 1988-89. 

Yonatan Cohen put Maccabi on the scoreboard in the 33rd minute from a penalty spot at the other end with a confidently taken kick after a Kiryat Shmona defender handled the ball on the edge of the area. Cohen blasted the ball to the right of Kiryat Shmona ‘keeper Djugas Bartkos, leaving him no chance of making a save.

Maccabi might have added a second goal before halftime when Dor Micha Rolled the ball softly into the empty goalmouth in the 42nd minute but again, Bar Natan intervened after a VAR review which ruled that the ball had not fully crossed the goal line as it was cleared by a Kiryat Shmona defender. 

Cohen had a very good chance to add to the score when in the 65th minute, his shot from 10 metres out hit the post and rebounded away. It followed an excellent move that began when Micha, in the centre, passed the ball to defender Andre Geraldes on the right. He sent a ball in from the edge of the area that punched a huge hole through the Kiryat Shmona defence only for Cohen to strike the ball firmly into the right post.

Tenenbaum then pulled off a magnificent save to frustrate Kiryat Shmona when he put his body in front of Mohammed Shaker’s close-range shot in the 71st minute that was further proof of the Brazilian-born goalkeeper’s pedigree. 

Kiryat Shmona did themselves no favours in the 77th minute when Eden Kartzev was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on a Maccabi player.

Cohen again came close the post in the 89th minute with a beautiful curling shot from the right that beat the outstretched Bartkos but the post got in the way once more.

Kiryat Shmona’s woes were compounded further when Shai Golan was also sent off for a foul on Enric Saborit in injury time and the northern club are in a precarious situation at the bottom of the table.