Four days after playing their final group stage match in the Conference League, Maccabi’s interim coach Barak Itzhaki whose side was held to a 1-1 draw by Alashkert in Yerevan made several changes to his side starting line up for the visit of Hapoel Hadera to Bloomfield stadium.
Daniel Peretz, who was rested in Armenia giving Daniel Tenenbaum precious playing minutes, returned to protect Maccabi’s goal. Sheran Yeini wearing the captain’s armband partnered Luis Hernandez as the duo who were both rested in Armenia, returned to the heart of defence as the two central defenders. Andre Gerlades and Ofir Davidzada who both made second half substitute appearances in Yerevan completed the back four on the right and left respectively.
Dan Glazer also returned to the heart of midfield as he lined-up against his younger brother Tamir, currently on loan from Maccabi at Hadera. Eyal Golasa and Gabi Kanichowsky who were also rested against Alashkert also returned to the side and completed the midfield trio. In the absence of Brandley Kuwas who picked a knock on Thursday, Dan Biton was drafted in on the wing with Tal Ben Chaim assigned to the opposite flank in support of Croatian striker Stipe Perica.
Maccabi began the match with high pressure on Hadera who could hardly get out of their own half in the opening minutes as the hosts enjoyed the majority of the possession. Gabi Kanichowsky tried a shot from long distance in the third minute which was blocked by Tamir Glazer on the edge of his penalty area.
Tal Ben Chaim floated in two crosses from theft which didn’t find a Maccabi player inside the box. An attack in the 11th minute saw Maccabi move the ball around Hadera’s penalty area with Eyal Golasa forcing a save from Robi Levkovich only for Andre Geraldes to hook the rebound high over the crossbar.
Ofir Davidzada’s last gasp tackle denied Gustavo Marmantini who broke clear through on 13, while two minutes later at the opposite end Dan Glazer forced Levkovich to push his shot around the post.
A mistake by Maccabi’s defence in the 29th minute allowed Shoval Gozlan to ghost unmarked an latch on a lose ball, but with only Daniel Peretz to beat somehow sent his shot wide of the target. Four minutes later however the deadlock was broken and Maccabi were awarded for their efforts as Golasa found Stipe Perica who beat a Hadera and threaded a low accurate drive past Levkovich.
Hadera’s players protested there was a infringement in the build up for the Croat’s goal but referee Niv Staif who had ghe incident inspected by VAR allowed the goal to count. Three minutes later Kanichowsky drilled a powerful left foot drive that was making its way in from the edge of the area only for Levkovich to punch the balk out.
In the 41st minute Maccabi came close to double their lead at the end of a spectacular move that began with Glazer in the middle who released Kanichowsky before the diminutive midfielder rode a tackle by Hadera’s towering defender Jonathan Cisse. Kanichowsky sent Ben Chaim who managed to take the ball round the advancing Levkovich but with the goal open at his mercy somehow managed to miscue his shot and sent the ball high and wide.
Dan Biton tried curling a free kick after Golasa was fouled 30 meters away from Hadera’s goal, but the midfielder’s left foot shot on 52 landed on the roof of the net. Right on the hour mark Maccabi doubled their lead as Biton exploited a mistake by a Hadera defender to charge down the right flank, cut the ball back for Golasa whose shot was initially saved by Levkovich. But as the ball reached Ben Chaim at the far post, the veteran forward kept his calm and shrugged off a Hadera defender before sliding the ball past Levkovich to make it 2-0.
In the 71st minute Golasa carved Hadera’s defence open with a perfect through ball to Ben Chaim who charged into the area, went round Levkovich and from the tightest of angles scored his second of the night and Maccabi’s third. This was the duo final contribution as Itzhaki made a double substitution replacing Ben Chaim and Golasa with Eduardo Guerrero and Avi Rikan.
Kanichowsky and Biton bowed out in the 80th minute as Itzhaki allowed Eylon Almog and Ido Shahar 10 minutes to try make an impression. Osama Khalaila replaced Perica on 84 as Itzhaki made his fifth and final substitution on the night.
Four minutes later Khalaila almost scored as a well timed Ofir Davidzada run beat Hadera’s defence before his cut back found the young striker whose shot was saved by Levkovich.