Three days after securing the league title by beating Hapoel Be’ersheva 3-0 at Bloomfield, Robbie Keane’s newly crowned Champions returned to Sammy Ofer where they beat Maccabi Haifa ten days ago. With an eight-point-lead, at the top of the table and two matches still left to play, Maccabi travelled to Haifa for the ONE ZERO League MD35 match against local side Hapoel backed y more than 5000 fans.

Keane made several changes to the side allowing some of his players a much needed rest. Roi Mishpati kept his place in goal with Ido Shahar returning to the right side of defense in place of Idan Nachmias who reported ill and was replaced in the squad by Kiko Bondoso. Enric Saborit on his 249th appearance in all competitions for the club lined up at the heart of defense alongside Derrick Luckassen. Roy Revivo returned to the side after completing his one-match touchline ban as he completed Maccabi’s defensive line at left back. After two substitute appearances, After two appearances as a substitute, Joris van Overeem, made his first start since recovering from the knee injury he picked in January. Dor Peretz returned to the side after serving his one-match touchline ban, with Eyal Golasa completing the midfield trio. Dor Turgeman, who scored the opening goal against Be’ersheva started on one flank with Yonatan Cohen on the other flank. Eran Zahavi who scored his 17th league goal against Haifa and 36th in all competitions this season led the team seeking to add to his impressive tally.

On the bench Keane named Daniel Tenenbaum, Avishay Cohen, Dan Biton, Raz Shlomo, Yonas Malede, Felicio Milson, Kiko Bondoso, Eden Karzev and Osher Davida.

First Half

Despite the strong presence of some 5000 travelling fans, it seemed as though Maccabi began the match under the influence of the championship celebrations. Hapoel Haifa dominated the early stages of the game with Litan Sardal flashing a shot wide of Roi Mishpati’s post in the 25th minute. Naor Sabag had another shot blocked and Sardal blasted another shot which rolled across the face of goal and wide before Misphati pulled a reflex save in the closing stages of the first half to deny Saag’s close range header.

Second Half

After a dull first half in which his side hardly made a threat on goal, Keane made a double change as Eyal Golasa and Dor Turgeman were replaced by Dan Biton and Felicio Milson for the restart. The changes gave Maccabi the needed lift as Eran Zahavi released Dor Peretz down the right channel in the 50th minute before continuing his run into the box. Peretz cut the ball back to find Zahavi but the veteran marksman wasted the chance as he blasted his shot over the crossbar.

Right on the hour mark, Biton picked a loose ball just inside Haifa’s half, charged forward and teed up Peretz whose shot from the edge of the area also cleared the crossbar. Keane reacted with another change a minute later as Osher Davida came on for Yonatan Cohen. Davida’s impact was instant as as Biton released the pacy winger down the right before his square ball towards Zahavi was turned by the 37 year old forward for his 37th goal in all competitions this season. A minute later Maccabi doubled their lead as Biton slid the ball to Peretz with a pass that carved Haifa’s defense open. Peretz flicked the ball passed Niv Antman but the referee assistant raised his flag for offside only to be cancelled by VAR’s intervention that cancelled the initial decision, allowing the goal to count.

Keane made a fourth change introducing Raz Shlomo for Enric Saborit who bowed out to a standing ovation on 69. Within two minutes Maccabi scored their third goal of the game and Zahavi scoring his easiest goal of the campaigns tapping in from point blank range after a spectacular Davida solo run. Zahavi could completed his hatrick in the 74th after Milson tormented his full back and centered towards his captain whose shot was blocked for a corner.

Eden Karzev replaced Peretz in the 79th minute as Keane made his final substitution allowing the 4700 Maccabi fans give the 29-year-old a standing ovation of his own. Milson’s claims for a penalty on 83 were dismissed by referee Gal Levy as Maccabi continued their blitz in an attempt to help Zahavi score and challenge for the top goalscorers chart.