Maccabi arrived at Turner stadium for the MD29 ONE ZERO League match against third place Hapoel Be’ersheva with a seven-point-lead at the top of the table following Maccabi Haifa’s victory over Bnei Sakhnin at the weekend.

Robbie Keane returned to the venue he had his debut match as Maccabi’s Head Coach guiding the team to a 6-1 Toto Cup victory back in July. Keane made two changes from last week’s team which was held to a 1-1 draw by Haifa at Bloomfield as Raz Shlomo returned to the side after recovering from a knee injury which sidelined him since February.

Shlomo partnered Enric Saborit as the two central defenders in front of goalkeeper Roi Mishpati with Ido Shahar on the right and Ofir Davidzada on the left completing Maccabi’s back-four. The knee injury Joris van Overeem suffered against Haifa which will keep him out for the next few weeks, saw Eden Karzev slot into the anchorman role. Gabi Kanichowsky and Dor Peretz joined Karzev as Maccabi’s midfield trio with Felicio Milson and Osher Davida assigned to both wings. Eran Zahavi led the team out and spearheaded the attack as the veteran striker who scored 16 league goals this season and 36 in all competitions will aim to continue his run of 6 goals in the last five outings.

On the bench Keane named, Daniel Tenenbaum, Avishay Cohen, Roy Revivo, Idan Nachmias, Dor Turgeman, Dan Biton, Yonas Malede, Eyal Golasa and Matan Baltaxa.

The decision taken by the Home Front Command to lift the restrictions of fans in stadiums, saw Turner stadium filled only by home fans following the punishment Maccabi received from the IFA Disciplinary court, due to last weeks’ pyrotechnics display.

First Half

Maccabi began the match on the front foot as Robbie Keane’s side dominated the play right from the start pinning Be’ersheva in their own half. Eran Zahavi had an early attempt on goal from outside the area, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. In the sixth minute at the opposite end Guy Badash tested Roi Mishpati with a long-range effort which was easily collected by Maccabi’s keeper.

In the 11th minute Raz Shlomo had a header blocked by a Be’ersheva defender at the far post before pyrotechnics from the home section caused a few minutes delay. When the smoke finally cleared and play resumed, Kanichowsky had an attempt of a shot which didn’t trouble Be’ersheva’s keeper Niv Eliasi.

Osher Davida who tormented Be’ersheva’s Yoni Stoyanov throughout the first half, left the wing-back flat on his back to break into the area in the 44th minute. But Davida’s attempt of a square ball which was directed at Zahavi was intercepted by Eliasi at the near post. The fourth official signaled five minutes of added time shortly before Ido Shahar flashed a half- volley which agonizingly crept wide of Eliasi’s post.

Inside injury time, Milson, who had a quiet first half by his own high standards created the space on the edge of the area to blast a shot which was too powerful for Eliasi to catch. The rebound fell to Davida who with the goal at his mercy managed to miscue his shot and strike the side netting.

Second Half

While Robbie Keane made no changes at the break, his Be’ersheva counterpart Elyaniv Barda, introduced Antonio Sefer for Guy Badash at the restart. Three minutes into the second half an organized attack that began with Ofir Davidzada on the left reached Shahar on the opposite flank as the right-back sent a shot that deflected off a defender but crashed against the post.

In the 54th minute Stoyanov rattled Mishpati’s post with a right foot shot, while two minutes later Maccabi’s keeper pulled a stunning reflex save to deny an Artur Shushenachev close range header. Five minutes later, Milson, was shown a yellow card by referee Yigal Frid for what he interpreted as a dive in the box.

Keane reacted as he made his first change in the 62nd minute with Yonas Malede replacing Davida. A minute later, Milson, slid the ball to Kanichowsky who charged into the area before his shot was blocked by Be’ersheva’s captain Miguel Vitor. Maccabi continued to look dangerous as Zahavi found Dor Peretz yet his powerful drive was also blocked by a defender before it could reach Eliasi.

In the 74th minute Peretz had another chance as he timed his run to perfection to meet Enric Saborit’s pinpoint cross, but his header was caught by Eliasi on his line. Three minutes later Beersheva were awarded a controversial penalty after Saborit fouled Vitor inside the area before Sefer stepped up sent Mishpati the wrong way to give Beersheva a 1-0 lead.

Keane made a double change in the 85th minute as Dor Turgeman and Dan Biton came on for Shahar and Kanichowsky. Despite throwing everything forward Maccabi couldn’t find an opening and level the score as Frid’s full time whistle ended the contents.