Ranked fourth in the table with 28 points from 17 matches Maccabi arrived at Teddy stadium ahead of the match against Hapoel Jerusalem aiming to continue the run of good form. Mladen Krstajic’s side recorded a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Be’ersheva at Bloomfield last week which was followed by a penalty shoot out State Cup victory over Kiryat Shmona in midweek.
Suspensions and injuries forced Krstajic to make several changes to his side as the Serbian coach looking for his third victory in succession. Daniel Peretz whose penalty save helped Maccabi qualify, kept his place in goal with Matan Baltaxa and Idan Nachmias lining-up right in front of him. The hamstring injury Enric Saborit picked at Kiryat Shmona meant that Ofir Davidzada occupied the left back position with Andre Geraldes completing the back-four on the right. Avi Rikan who scored a dramatic late equaliser at Kiryat Shmona led the team out with the captain’s armband as Dan Glazer was serving a one-match touchline ban. Eden Shamir, who recently enjoyed a spell of good form and was also suspended, was replaced in the midfield engine room by Eyal Golasa. Dan Biton who made a second half substitute appearance at Kiryat Shmona and scored one of the penalties, returned to the starting line-up. While Gabi Kanichowsky and Brandley Kuwas were both named by Krstajic in support of Osama Khalaila who led the attack aiming to build on last week’s winning goal he scored against Be’ersheva. Eduardo Guerrero who completed his two-match suspension he received following the defeat at Haifa and Luis Hernandez who recovered from illness bot returned to the squad and waited for their chance to make a contribution.
The cold and rainy weather conditions that welcomed Maccabi at Teddy stadium didn’t deter Mladen Krstajic’s side from starting the match with pressure on Hapoel Jerusalem. It didn’t take long for Maccabi to reach their first chance in the 8th minute as Avi Rikan cut the ball back for Brandly Kuwas who blasted his shot high over the crossbar. In what seemed like a carbon copy of the previous move two minutes earlier, Osama Khalaila missed Ofir Davidzada’s square ball as Maccabi wasted another chance to score.
In the 24th minute Kuwas was more accurate as he fired a left-foot shot from the edge of the area that forced Adebayo Adeleye to a double save in order to deny the Curacao international. Hapoel Jerusalem’s coach, Ziv Ariye, was forced to make a change shortly before the half hour mark as Guy Hadida limped off and was replaced by former Maccabi midfielder Ruslan Barsky. Within a minute the hosts reached their first chance on goal as Yao Koffi fed Guy Badash who flashed a flashed a shot across the face of Daniel Peretz’s goal.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 38th minute as Rikan teed-up Dan Biton who stepped into the area before beating Adeleye with am accurate shot into the bottom corner.
Maccabi came close to double the score two minutes later but a misunderstanding between Kuwas and Khalaila two minutes later didn’t result with a shot on target. The dual between Kuwas and Adeleye continued once again in the 41st minute as the Jerusalem keeper managed to save the powerful long distance shot Maccabi’s winger fired on target.
Mladen Krstajic made no changes at the restart, but after an indifferent 15 minutes in which none of the teams created any chance to score, Maccabi came close to twice to double the score. A poor clearance by a Jerusalem defender right on the hour mark fell to Rikan who curled a shot from the edge of the area that sailed over the crossbar. A minute later, Khalaila was given two chances to score but his initial shot was saved by Adeleye before the young striker blasted the rebound high and wide.
Krstajic reacted with a triple substitution as Eyal Golasa, Kuwas and Khalaila were replaced in the 65th minute by Matan Hozez, Eylon Almog and Eduardo Guerrero.
In the 73rd minute however, Jerusalem were back on level terms as substitute Idan Shemesh rose above Maccabi’s defence to head in a Badash corner past Daniel Peretz who let the ball slip between his hands.
Ido Shahar replaced Rikan in the 77th minute as Krstajic added a fresh pair of legs for the closing stages. But in the 83rd minute Maccabi were reduced to 10 men for the final minutes in controversial circumstances as referee Aviad Shiloah mistakenly issued Hozez a yellow card after he was fouled by Badash, while a minute later sent the winger off for a second bookable offence.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Maccabi pushed forward and looked more dangerous but in the 90th minute Guerrero wasted a chance as he blasted a shot over the bar instead of passing to one of his teamates who were in a better position. In side injury time however, Gabi Kanichowsky restored Maccabi’s lead with a low powerful drive that beat Adeleye from the edge of the area. Two minutes later, Ido Shahar sealed the victory with a shot that deflected in off a defender to wrong-foot the keeper and make it 3-1.