The Yellow & Blue with 10-men defeated Hapoel Acre 2:0 on Matchday 22 of the Israel Premier League Ligat Ha’Al to stay atop the table after second half goals by substitute Eliran Atar and a Nick Blackman penalty. Striker Barak Itzhaki was sent off in the 56’ for a reckless tackle on Ben Reichert while a penalty call in favor of Maccabi was reversed two minutes earlier in an entertaining contest as Jordi Cruyff’s side took home the 3-points and the win.
Jordi Cruyff’s Starting XI included keeper Predrag Rajikovic, Dor Micha, Eitan Tibi, Tal Ben Haim, Jean-Sylvain Babin, Ofir Davidzada, Dor Peretz, Cristian Battocchio, Barak Itzhaki, Nick Blackman, Vidar Kjartansson.
Available on the bench were keeper Daniel Tenenbaum, Aaron Schoenfeld, Avi Rikan, Tomer Altman, Jose Rodriguez, Gidi Kanuk and Eliran Atar.
Maccabi looked to take an early lead and in the 3’ Battocchio’s free kick went to Babin, but his low liner hit the left post and went out to safety. Seven minutes later, Gaby Kanikovsky’s long distance attempt went out as Acre had their first chance of the contest. Ben Azubel had an opportunity for Acre in the 14’ but Rajikovic was up to the task and sent the ball out for a corner.
Two minutes later Azubel has a brilliant chance to give the host’s the lead but he headed a corner right into the waiting hands of Rajikovic while Peretz was issued a yellow card in the 17’. Azubel again went for a header on Rajikovic but this time the Maccabi shot stopper made an alert kick save to keep the match goalless after 22’.
Maccabi was given a free kick in the 28’ that Blackman skied over the goal while three minutes later Vidar turned at the top of the box and put the ball off of the left post. Blackman was shown yellow for a reckless tackle in the 32’ which was followed up by a yellow card to Bruno Ibeh on Acre soon thereafter.
Peretz tried a header off a corner in the 42’ that missed the target and two minutes later Itzhaki’s attempt from the top right corner of the box off a corner went over the bar. At the other end just before the break, Peter Onyekachi went one on one with Rajikovic but his attempt went wide to the left of the goal as the half ended deadlocked at 0:0.
Acre continued looking for a goal and Matan Baltaxa who Maccabi loaned to the northern side last month launched a bullet towards the Yellow & Blue goal, however, his effort went wide left in the 50’. Blackman was pushed down in the box in the 54’ and a penalty was called for Maccabi but after consultation with the other referees he reversed the call.
However, two minutes later Itzhaki was issued a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Ben Reichert leaving Maccabi with ten men for the balance of the contest. Onyekachi‘s 61’ opportunity went over the goal while Cruyff made his first substitute of the match when he inserted Eliran Atar in favor of Vidar. Azubel rifled the ball towards Rajikovic in the 64’ but the Yellow & Blue keeper made an incredible instinctive save.
Four minutes later Yinon Eliyahu’s header just missed the target as Acre continued to threaten the Maccabi goal. Cruyff made his second substitution when he brought on Avi Rikan for Ben Haim in the 72’ as the Yellow & Blue looked to find the first marker of the match.
And find it they would! Eliran Atar put in a rebound off a Blackman chance that Ram Strauss wasn’t able to hold on to for a 1:0 advantage in the 76’ and 3 minutes later Gal Shaish pulled down Blackman in the box and was awarded a penalty that he duly converted for a 2:0 lead. Aaron Schoenfeld came on for Blackman in the 87’ as Maccabi wrapped up the win and took home the 3-points to keep them atop the table.