Newly appointed coach Mladen Krstajic arrived at Bloomfield stadium for the State Cup tie against third division outfit Hapoel Marmorek in what is his first match in charge. Krstajic, had a depleted squad at his disposal as no less than six players dropped out of the squad due to illness. Shahar Piven who is recovering from a leg injury was joined on the absentees list by Tal Ben Chaim, Sheran Yeini, Ofir Davidzada, Enric Saborit, Ido Shahar and Dan Biton.

Krstajic, who watched the team’s last two matches on TV before his unveiling on Wednesday, guided the team for three training sessions prior to the match. With a league encounter at home against Bnei Sakhnin on Wednesday, Krstajic gave a chance to several players who didn’t enjoy too much playing time to impress him in live action. Daniel Peretz kept his place in goal with Idan Nachmias and Luis Hernandez as the two central defenders right in front of the 21-year-old keeper. Maor Kandil at right-back and Matan Baltaxa on the left side of defence completed the back-four. Eden Shamir was assigned to the defensive midfield role, while Avi Rikan who led the team out with the captain’s armband joined him in the midfield engine room allowing Gabi Kanichowsky a more attacking role. Eylon Almog and Brandley Kuwas were assigned to both wings in support of Osama Khalaila who led the line upfront.

Due to all the absentees, Maccabi were missing a substitute on the bench as Daniel Tenenbaum, Dan Glazer, Matan Hozez, Stipe Perica, Eyal Golasa, Ronen Hanzis, Andre Gerlades and Eduardo Guerrero all waited on the bench for their call-up.

First Half

Marmorek began the match aggressively as David Marten’s third division side showed no signs of fear in the opening minutes. A counter attack which began with Gabi Kanichowsky and Avi Rikan in the 7th minute led to Maccabi’s first chance. Eylon Almog and Matan Baltaxa combined well down the left before the latter’s cut-back found Kanichowsky whose attempt of a shot was collected by Amit Keren. Two minutes later at the opposite end, Marmorek came close to score a goal themselves with a free kick which was headed goal-bound only for Daniel Peretz to catch the ball that looked dangerous enough. The longer the match proceeded Maccabi looked more and more dominant until taking the lead in the 19th minute through Idan Nachmias. The tall defender timed his run well to meet Kanichowsky’s free kick before burying the header past Keren and break the deadlock.

Osama Khalaila almost double the lead on 22 as he was released by Rikan into the area before firing a right foot low drive that was agonisingly deflected for a corner. Two minutes later a left foot Brandley Kuwas shot from the edge of the area, forced Keren to stretch himself and deny the Curaçao international. A well drilled corner on 32 released Almog on the edge of the area but his shot was deflected for a corner which began a series of three corners as Maccabi increased the pressure on Marmorek.

Elad Ashram was the first player to go into the book of referee Dekel Tzino for a tackle from behind on Kuwas in the 37th minute. With no further incidents before the interval, the halftime whistle sent both teams to warm up in the dressing rooms during the break.

Second Half

Four minutes after the restart Maccabi doubled their lead as Eden Shamir flicked Kanichowsky’s corner into the path of Khalaila who fired the ball in at the far post. Almog almost made it three two minutes later after Kanichowsky carved Marmorek’s defence open, but his shot sailed to the wrong side of the post.

In the 56th minute, Rikan was rewarded for his efforts as Almog, cut the ball back for the veteran midfielder who beat Keren with a perfect shot that found the bottom far corner and made it 3-0.

Khalaila came close to double his tally on the night as he toyed with Keren but failed to get a shot on target while Kanichowsky hit the side netting a minute later.

Krstajic made a triple change in the 63rd minute as Nachmias, Kanichowsky and Kuwas all bowed out and were replace by Matan Hozez, Eyal Golasa and Eduardo Guerrero.

Six minutes after his introduction Guerrero increased Maccabi’s lead to 4-0 as Almog sent the Panamanian forward into the Marmorek area before he slid the ball between the legs of the stranded Keren. Stipe Perica replaced Khaliala and Ronen Hanzis came in for Rikan as Krstajic used his fourth and fifth substitutions in the 72nd minute. Both substitutes combined in less than a minute as Hanzis let a square ball from Hozez run and reach Perica but the tall Croat striker shot wide.

In the closing stages Maccabi’s forwards tried increasing the score, but none of their efforts resulted in another goal.

Maccabi now enter tomorrow’s round of 16 draw at the IFA Headquarters before discovering who will be their next opponents.