Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to Bloomfield stadium for the match that officially kick started the 2022/23 campaign as Vladimir Ivic’s side faced Maccabi Netanya for a Toto Cup Quarter Final tie.

The Serbian coach, in his second spell at Maccabi and his first return to Bloomfield in two years, was missing several players as Dan Glazer, Shahar Piven, Eran Zahavi and Nir Bitton are still recovering from their injuries. Zahavi and Bitton who both joined the club in the summer were introduced to the Maccabi fans before kick-off, as was the third new summer signing Joris van Overeem.

With Maccabi facing a trip to Azerbaijan ahead of Thursday’s Conference League 2nd qualifying round against Zyra, Ivic’s first starting line-up of the season that faced Netanya was particularly interesting for the 10,061 fans who turned up at Bloomfield.

Daniel Peretz who was a youth goal keeper last time Ivic was at Maccabi, but has since developed into an Israeli international, was named in goal for the second season in succession. Veteran captain, Sheran Yeini, led the team out wearing the captain’s armband as the 35-year-old defender started his 18th season in Yellow and Blue. Idan Nachmias lined-up alongside Yeini as the second central defender with Andre Geraldes and Enric Saborit completing the back-four on the right and left respectively.

Joris van Overeem made his official home debut at Maccabi as the 28-year-old Dutchman who joined the club from FC Utrecht started at the heart of midfield. Eyal Golasa starting his 7th season at Maccabi and Dan Biton both joined van Overeem in the midfield engine room. Parfait Guiagon, who returned to Maccabi in the summer after a one-season-long loan-spell at Netanya, was named by Ivic on the wing against his former teammates. Brandley Kuwas was given the nod on the opposite flank while Djordje Jovanovic who scored 11 goals last term since joining Maccabi in the winter, led the line in the striker’s role.

Daniel Tenenbaum, Stipe Perica, Eylon Almog, Gabi Kanichowsky, Avi Rikan, Nadav Niddam, Ofir Davidzada, Maor Kandil and Matan Hozez were all named as substitutes waiting for their chance to make an impression.

First Half

Maccabi began the match on the back foot as Netanya were the first side to reach a goal-scoring opportunity in the game. Four minutes from the start Eden Kartzev was first to react to a Maccabi clearance before unleashing a low drive which Daniel Peretz managed to save. Three minutes later a Shay Konstantini shot from a tight angle forced Peretz to another save. Netyanya kept on looking dangerous as the young Maccabi custodian needed a fingertip save to push a dangerous cross from his goalmouth in the 10th minute.

It took Maccabi 18 minutes to create their first chance as Brandley Kuwas charged down the right flank, slid the ball into the path of Djordje Jovanovic who managed to beat Itamar Nitzan. But the ball which rolled towards the open goal, struck the base of the post before it was cleared. Two minutes later the combination of Kuwas and Jovanovic almost led to the opener as the Curacao international curled a cross from the left and Jovanovic was beaten by Nitzan who charged off his line. Netanya kept on putting Maccabi’s defence under pressure forcing an error from Sheran Yeini allowing Gil Itzhak to have a shot from the middle of the area but Peretz stretched himself to push the ball for a corner.

Itzhak was shaking his head in disbelief minutes later as somehow he managed to hook the ball over the crossbar from close range when it seemed easier to score. Enric Saborit came close as he pounced on a Jovanovic knockdown but the Spaniard was pulled back by a Netanya defender before Nitzan denied him with his feet. With no goals in the first 45 minutes, Snir Levy’s halftime whistle sent both teams to the dressing rooms to cool down from the hot and humid weather conditions.

Second Half

Vladimir Ivic made a single change after the interval as Eylon Almog replaced Dan Biton at the restart.

Jovanovic had the ball in the Netanya net two minutes inside the second half but for some reason Levy disallowed the goal claiming the ball struck Kuwas’ arm. But with no VAR at this stage of the competition, the fact TV footage showed the ball came off Kuwas’ head didn’t help Maccabi’s cause.

In the 50th minute Almog turned inside two defenders before being hacked down by Boris Enow who was consequently booked. Two minutes after the hour mark, Kuwas blasted a left foot free-kick which Nitzan tipped onto his crossbar before Netanya’s defence cleared the danger.

Jovanovic had two more shots on goal but on both occasions the young Serbian striker struck the ball straight at Nitzan. Ivic made his second change of the game in the 72nd minute as he introduced Gabi Kanichowsky for Parfait Guiagon and Stipe Perica for Jovanovic.

Seven minutes later Ivic added a fresh pair of legs on 79 as Kuwas who worked tirelessly throughout the match bowed out to a standing ovation and was replaced by Matan Hozez. Avi Rikan replaced Eyal Golasa in the 81st minute as Ivic made his fifth change for the closing stages. Netanya were reduced to 10 men on 83 after Konstantini was shown a second yellow for a foul on Kanichowsky.

Inside injury time Maccabi were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area following a foul on Hozez who picked himself up and took the free kick, but the winger curled his shot over the bar.
Snir Levy’s full-time whistle sent both teams to decide the tie by sudden death spot kicks.

Rikan blasted Maccabi’s first spot-kick against the crossbar before Peretz ensured his goal remains locked as he saved Kartzev penalty. Almog put Maccabi in front but Yuval Ashkenazi restored parity. Saborit kept his calm, sent Nitzan the wrong way and gave Maccabi a 2-1 lead but Yuval Sadeh levelled at 2-2. Hozez slotted his shot home to put Maccabi in the lead once again before Amir Berkovitts scored Netanya’s third. Perica blasted in his penalty as Netanya’s fifth penalty taker Patrick Twumasi levelled once again. Idan Nachmias had his spot kick saved by Nitzan and Raz Shlomo successfully converted his spot kick to send Netanya through to the Semi Final of the Toto Cup.