Three days after securing qualification to the Playoff of the Conference League, Maccabi arrived at Doha stadium for the Toto Cup Semi Final against Bnei Sakhnin. Four days before hosting the first leg against Slovenian outfit NK Celje at Bloomfield, Maccabi’s Head Coach, Robbie Keane, made several changes to his starting line-up.

Daniel Peretz kept his place in goal with Enric Saborit and Derrick Luckassen named as the two central defenders. Shahar Piven on the right and Ofir Davidzada on the left completed Maccabi’s four-man defensive line in front of the 23-year-old keeper. Eyal Golasa occupied the anchorman role with Gabi Kanichowsky and Dor Peretz completing the midfield trio. Yonatan Cohen and Milson supplied the width to Maccabi’s attack with Dor Turgeman leading the line in his first start of the season.

First Half

Maccabi dominated the early stages of the game as Milson making his first start, tormented Sakhnin’s defenders. In the 16th minute Maccabi were rewarded for their efforts as Dor Peretz, Maccabi’s captain on the night, struck a shot that deflected off a Sakhnin defender to beat Nicholas Hagen at the near post.

A rare Sakhnin counter attack in the 33rd saw the ball squared to Dor Hugi who was in the middle of the area but he sliced his shot wide of Daniel Peretz’s post. Dor Turgeman was booked by referee Aviad Shiloah in the 35th minute while at the opposite end a minute later Baseel Khouri had a dangerous shot blocked by Derrick Luckassen for a corner.

In the 42nd minute Ofir Davidzada exchanged passes with Pererz to break into Sakhnin’s box from the left but from a comfortable position rushed his shot and cleared the crossbar. On the stroke of halftime, Khouri, was booked for yet another foul on Milson but the intervention of VAR saw Shiloah walk to the screen and change the color of the card to red.

Second Half

Two minutes after the restart Shiloah awarded Maccabi a penalty after a Milson shot was judged to have struck the arm of Naser Yazen. But once again VAR intervened, and the decision was overturned.

In the 54th minute and despite their numerical disadvantage Sakhnin were back on level terms. Maccabi’s defense allowed Saher Taji the time and space on the edge of the area before Sakhnin’s diminutive midfielder blasted a right foot shot that rocketed into the top corner giving Peretz no chance.

Maccabi restored their lead within three minutes as the ball fell to Yonatan Cohen inside the area before he fired half volley that struck the underside of the crossbar to land behind the goal-line.

The blitz continued and in the 59th minute Milson released Dor Turgeman who timed his run well to charge from the halfway line and slide the ball between Hagen’s legs. The linesman raised his flag for offside but VAR corrected the referee’s team to award Turgeman his first goal of the season and Maccabi’s third on the night.

Robbie Keane made his first changes as Milson and Peretz both bowed out to a standing ovation by Maccabi’s travelling with Ido Shahar and Eran Zahavi coming on.

Cohen scored his second and Maccabi’s fourth with an accurate left foot shot that curled in in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, Keane made a double change as Cohen and Enric Saborit were replaced by Eylon Almog and Idan Nachmias who returned for the first time since recovering from a knee injury.

On his way out, Saborit handed Nachmias the captain’s armband in a gesture that had an emotional effect on the tall central defender.

Gabi Kanichowsky who had a quiet game came off in the 80th minute a d was replaced by Dan Biton as Keane made his fifth and final substitution. Two minutes later Biton joined in the celebration as his accurate left foot shot from the edge of the area crept into the bottom corner to make it 5-1.

A Derrick Luckassen acrobatic diving header saw the Dutchman clear a Dor Hugi shot that beat Peretz off the goal line on 83.

The final whistle confirmed that Maccabi secured their place in Toto Cup Final as now Robbie Keane and his charges could turn their attention to qualifying to the Conference League Group stages as well.