Maccabi returned to Bloomfield stadium for the MD29 ONE ZERO League match against Hapoel Haifa aiming to return to winning ways. Robbie Keane’s side that suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Hapoel Be’ersheva on the back of the 1-1 draw against Maccabi Haifa, have a seven-point-lead at the top of the table.

Injuries and suspensions forced Keane to make at least two changes as Joris van Overeem is still recovering from an operation on his knee. Eran Zahavi was also absent for serving a one-match-touchline ban after picking his fifth booking this season against Be’ersheva. Raz Shlomo and Enric Saborit kept their places at the heart of defense in front of goalkeeper Roi Mishpati. Roy Revivo returned to the side at right-back with Ofir Davidzada completing Maccabi’s back-four on the left. Eden Karzev continued in the midfield engine room alongside Gabi Kanichowsky with Dor Peretz completing the trio this time with the captain’s armband. Felicio Milson and Osher Davida on the left and right respectively supplied the width to Maccabi’s formation. Dor Turgeman, started upfront as the 20-year-old forward keen to impress and add to his tally of 7 league goals and 10 in all competitions this season.

On the bench Keane named goalkeeper Daniel Tenenbaum, Avishay Cohen, Idan Nachmias, Dan Biton, Yonatan Cohen, Yonas Malede, Eyal Golasa, Matan Baltaxa and Ido Shahar.

First Half

Boosted by an almost full house on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Bloomfield, Maccabi began the match on the front foot. With less than three minutes on the clock Enric Saborit released Felicio Milson down the left flank before his cut back found Dor Peretz whose shot sailed high over the crossbar. Two minutes later Haifa’s defense failed to clear a Karzev cross before the Angolan winger was quick to react and squeezed the ball between Yoav Gerafi and the near post to open the score.

Maccabi’s blitz continued in the ninth minute as Dor Turgeman doubled the score at the end of a spectacular team effort. Milson was in the thick of things once again as he exchanged passes with Davidzada to release Gabi Kanichowsky whose pinpoint cross was headed into the top corner by Turgeman to double the score.

After the second goal Maccabi seemed to have taken their foot off the pedal allowing the visitors to get back in the game. Guy Melamed had a couple of efforts blocked by Saborit and Kanichowsky while Bar Lin blasted a shot high over the crossbar. Referee Erez Pappir waived Osher Davida’s claims for a penalty before the halftime whistle sent both teams to regroup in the dressing rooms.

Second Half

Keane made no changes after the interval, while his Haifa counterpart Roni Levy made a double change as he introduced Oren Biton and Liran Sardal for Yinon Eliyahu and Filipe Santos. But five minutes after the restart, Kanichowsky’s pressure on Haifa’s defense saw the diminutive intercept a Dor Malul pass and with only the keeper to beat slotted the ball home to score Maccabi’s third and his seventh league goal of the season.

Just like the first half, Maccabi continued their blitz as they scored another within four minutes. Karzev chested the ball down on the edge of the box and fired a volley which proved too powerful for Gerafi to hold onto. Saborit pounced on the loose ball and cut it back for Peretz who side footed home. The linesman raised his flag for offside, but VAR intervened and allowed the goal to count as Maccabi were 4-0 up after 55 minutes.

Keane made a triple substitution two minutes after the hour mark as Saborit, Peretz and Milson all bowed out to a standing ovation as they were replaced by Matan Baltaxa, Ido Shahar and Yonas Malede.

Shahar could have made an immediate impact as he was gifted the ball by Haifa’s defense to find himself right in front of Gerafi, but the midfielder rushed his shot and sent it wide. Dan Biton replaced Osher Davida in the 66th minute and got involved in the action almost instantly as he released Kanichowsky whose square ball found Turgeman. With Gerafi caught in no man’s land, Turgeman had the goal at his mercy as his slid to send the ball towards goal only to see it rolling agonizingly wide

Mishpati made his first save of the game in the 70th minute as he charged off his line to block with his feet Itay Buganim’s effort. In the 80th minute Kanichowsky received his standing ovation by the majority of the 23,221 fans as he was replaced by Eyal Golasa for the closing stages.

Biton tried curling a left foot shot from the edge of the area which Gerafi managed to claw out and deny the midfielder from joining in the goal fest on 83. The full-time whistle confirmed Maccabi’s victory with attention now turned to Saturday’s match against Bnei Reineh.