Maccabi return to league action after a two week international break as Aitor Karanka’s charges travel to Teddy stadium for a match against Hapoel Jerusalem on MD28 of the ONE ZERO League.

Maccabi’s 2-0 victory over Maccabi Netanya had the Playoff get underway with a positive start as it took the point tally to 55 – ten adrift of leaders Maccabi Haifa and 6 behind Hapoel Be’ersheva. On the day the top two face each other, Maccabi will aim to capitalize and narrow the gap before hosting Haifa on Tuesday and travelling to Be’ersheva the following Monday.

The 2-1 defeat to Hapoel Jerusalem at Bloomfield on MD25 which helped Ziv Ariye’s side secure a top Playoff berth, is still fresh in the memories of everyone at Maccabi which will be desperate to avenge that defeat. Since then, Jerusalem lost twice to Maccabi Bnei Reineh and Be’ersheva both by a solitary goal and are currently fifth in the table with 36 points.

Karanka made two changes from the side which beat Netanya as he welcomed back into the side both Eyal Golasa and Gabi Kanichowsky in place of Dan Glazer and the injured Parfait Guiagon.

There were no changes in defence as Derrick Luckassen and Enric Saborit lined up in front of goalkeeper Daniel Peretz with Andre Geraldes and Ofir Davidzada completing the back four on the right and left respectively. Golasa joined Dor Peretz in the midfield engine room with Kanichowsky and Dan Biton on both wings. Eran Zahavi led the team out wearing the captain’s armband as the veteran marksman partnered Djordje Jovanovic upfront.

On the bench, with Daniel Tenenbaum still nursing a back injury, Karanka, named Tomer Alon as the substitute keeper with Rares Ilie, Avi Rikan, Yonatan Cohen, Maor Kandil, Shahar Piven, Dor Turgeman and Nir Bitton all waiting for their chance.

First Half

Maccabi got off to a flying start and took the lead with less than a minute on the clock as Djordje Jovanovic scored his 15th league goal. Gabi Kanichowsky won a tackle right on the halfway line before releasing Eran Zahavi who picked Dan Biton just in-front of the area. Biton squared the ball to Jovanovic whose attempt of a shot deflected off a Jerusalem defender to catch Adeley Adebayo off-guard and break the deadlock. Five minutes later Biton tried his luck with a left foot effort of his own but this time Adebayo collected with ease.

Jovanovic thought he had scored a second as a counter attack Biton led for half the length of the pitch resulted with an Eran Zahavi effort blocked. Zahavi and Gabi Kanichowsky tried reaching the rebound before Jovanovic blasted it home but VAR disallowed the goal for an alleged offside.

Eyal Golasa forced Adebayo to a spectacular save as Maccabi’s midfielder sent a shot from the edge of the area which was making its way into the top corner on 36. Enric Saborit went into the referee’s book for a foul on William Togui in the 42nd minute.

Second Half

The second half began exactly like the first as Biton led a counter attack and was fouled inside the center circle by Amit Glazer. Fuxman initially showed the Maccabi loanee a yellow card but following the intervention of VAR changed his decision to red leaving Jerusalem with 10 men. Karanka reacted almost instantly as he introduced Rares Ilie for Jovanovic while his counterpart Ziv Ariye sent Yoav Tomer in for Togui.

Zahavi had a close range effort saved by Adebayo before being fouled on the edge of the area in the 66th minute. Biton tried curling the free kick with his left but somehow his shot was blocked by none other than Golasa. Karanka made his second substitution as Avi Rikan replaced Biton who was given a standing ovation in the 77th minute. Seconds later, Zahavi had another effort denied by Adebayo, this time a close range diving header.

In the 88th minute Karanka made a double change as Andre Geraldes and Kanichowsky were both replaced by Maor Kandil and Yonatan Cohen for the closing stages. Inside injury time Zahavi doubled the score with a fierce low drive which went in off the post to seal the victory.