Maccabi arrived at Teddy stadium for the ONE ZERO League MD18 against Beitar Jerusalem from the second place with 39 points, nine adrift of leaders Maccabi Haifa. A week before both teams face each other at Bloomfield, Maccabi was aiming to record their 13th league win and restore the gap in the table to six points.

In his second match in charge of Maccabi, Aitor Karanka, will aim to maintain his 100% record against improving Beitar Jerusalem. Since suffering a 4-0 defeat when both teams met earlier this season, Yossi Abuksis’ side lost only once in their last five league matches climbing to 8th in the table with 20 points. Karanka welcomed back into the squad Derrick Luckassen and Enric Saborit who both served their one match touchline ban during last week’s victory over Ashdod.

The Spanish coach made three changes from the side which beat Ashdod as Saborit and Luckassen returned to partner Nir Bitton as the three central defenders in front of goalkeeper Daniel Peretz. Andre Geraldes kept his place as the right wing-back while the knee injury which forced Ofir Davidzada off against Ashdod saw Yonatan Cohen drafted in on the opposite left flank. Dan Glazer and Gabi Kanichowsky remained in the midfield engine room while Oscar Gloukh who recovered from the illness which forced him to withdraw from the squad last week, was named at the top of the midfield trio. Upfront, Eran Zahavi led the team out wearing the captain’s armband as Djordje Jovanovic partnered him upfront aiming to continue the striking partnership which proved so lethal this season.

On the bench alongside goalkeeper Daniel Tenenbaum, Karanka named, Parfait Guiagon, Sheran Yeini, Avi Rikan, Eyal Golasa, Maor Kandil, Shahar Piven, Dor Turgeman and Dor Peretz all waiting to make an impact.

First Half

Supported by more than 8000 travelling fans together with the hosts who also turned up in large numbers, the atmosphere at Teddy stadium prior to kick-off was cold yet electric. It took Beitar less than a minute to show they are nothing like the side that was easily beaten earlier this season when Yarden Shua turned on the edge of Maccabi’s area before unleashing a dipping volley which was caught by Daniel Peretz.

Maccabi attacked through the channels with Gabi Kanichowsky, Dan Glazer and Oscar Gloukh trying to find Yonatan Cohen and Andre Gerlades down the flanks. Beitar’s coach Yossi Abuksis, packed his defence with three central defenders and two wing backs in an attempt to close limit Maccabi’s frontline.

In the 25th minute a controversial decision changed the course of the game as Shua sent Danilo Asprilla racing into the area before the Colmbian was barged down by Derrick Luckassen. Referee Gal Leibovic awarded Beitar a penalty and booked the Dutch central defender. But following the intervention of VAR, Leibovic changed the yellow card with a red one to leave Maccabi with 10 men. Shua stepped-up and blasted the spot kick which went in off the crossbar and put the hosts in front while Maccabi were left to fight with a numerical disadvantage.

Karanka didn’t want to wait for the interval to make a change as he was ready to shuffle his side by replacing Cohen with Dor Peretz in the 40th minute. While Peretz was standing by the fourth official ready to come on, Maccabi were back on level terms. Oscar Gloukh and Eran Zahavi exchanged passes before the diminutive midfielder shrugged Orel Dgani with one touch, and sent a delicate chip towards the back post for Zahavi to head his ninth of the season. The substitution took place after the equaliser as Karanka sent Peretz to take Luckassen’s place in defence while Enric Saborit switched to left back.

Second Half

While Maccabi made their change before the interval, Abuksis did his after the break as Bar Cohen replaced Or Zahavi at the restart. In the 53rd minute Djordje Jovanovic released Geraldes with a clever back heal flick before the Portuguese full back’s cross was volleyed wide by Gloukh.

A minute after the hour mark Beitar regained their lead with Shua and Asprilla swapping roles. Shua curled a cross into the area and the Colombian forward rose above Nir Bitton and Saborit to send his header which gave Daniel Peretz no chance as the ball went in off the crossbar once again. Karanka made his second substitution as Parfait Guiagon replaced the industrious Kanichowsky in the 67th minute.

Karanka’s fresh substitute made an immediate impact as Maccabi equalised within a minute. The diminutive Ivorian spotted Geraldes’ run down the right before the Portuguese whipped-in a sharp cross which was met by Zahavi’s glancing header that beat Itamar Yisraeli for Maccabi’s and his second time on the night.

In the 80th minute Guiagon and Jovanovic exchanged passes before the Serbian forward flashed a header wide of the post. Karanka made another change as Avi Rikan replaced the tired Gloukh in the 90th minute.

In the four minutes which were added by the officials, Rikan tried two shots on goal but the first sailed high while the second was caught by Yisraeli. In the dying moments a Rikan corner reached Jovanovic whose header went straight into the hands of the keeper before the full time whistle confirmed it was not going to be Maccabi’s night.