Maccabi defeats Haifa 2:0 at Sammy Ofer

Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Haifa in Matchday 34 of the Ligat Ha’Al Championship Playoffs thanks to two first half goals by Vidar Kjartansson and Avi Rikan.

Head Coach Lito Vidigal Starting XI included a couple of players returning from injury in Eitan Tibi and Eli Dasa as they joined Captain Sheran Yeini and Tal Ben Haim on defense playing in front of Serbian keeper Predrag Rajikovic. Avi Rikan, Reuben Micael, Eyal Golasa and Yossi Benayoun played in the midfield while Tal Ben Chaim and Vidar Kjartansson provided the attack.

Available on the bench were keeper Daniel Lifshitz, Yuval Shpungin, Dor Micha, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ramon Roma, Gal Alberman and Eliel Peretz.

First Half
Maccabi came out flying to begin the match as Rikan’s scorcher was just parried to safety by Omri Glazer in the 3rd minute, however, just a minute later Kjartansson slotted the ball home behind the Greens keeper for a 1:0 Maccabi lead.

On the goal, Haifa defender Dekel Keinan was injured and needed to be substituted as Eyad Abu Abed came on in his stead. Eliran Atar tried to get his side back into the contest but his 14th minute effort went wide of the goal. Ben Chaim took an attempt on goal in the 23rd minute while Benayoun tried his luck two minutes later to no avail as Maccabi searched for a second goal.

But Haifa had two chances by Gila Vermouth and Amit Zaneti that almost caused trouble for the Maccabi keeper however, Rajikovic was able to keep the ball out of the goal in the 29th and 32nd minutes respectively. With the Yellow & Blue trying to locate that elusive second strike they found it via Avi Rikan who was playing a more forward role as he took the rebound from a Ben Chaim shot and slammed it home for the 2:0 lead.

Just before the break Kjaratansson’s free kick just missed the mark while Rajikovic picked up a yellow card for stalling as Maccabi tool the 2:0 advantage into the dressing room.

Second Half
Ben Chaim and Atar traded chances while Ben Haim picked up a yellow card and Eliel Peretz replaced Benayoun as Maccabi lulled Haifa to sleep early on in the second half. Dasa lifted a ball to Kjaratansson in the box in the 71st minute but the Icelander’s header just went over the bar.

American-Israeli striker Aaron Schoenfeld was introduced in the 78th minute in favor of Kjartansson as Yeini and Golasa each picked up yellow cards before Maccabi finished up a tidy 2:0 victory.