The visit of Bnei Reineh is Maccabi’s first of four matches in the space of 14 days as Robbie Keane’s side kick-start their Conference League Group stage campaign at home to Icelandic outfit Breidablik on Thursday. With that in mind, Maccabi’s Head Coach, Robbie Keane, made several changes to the side that won at Hadera before the international break. Roi Mishpati kept his place in goal, with Nir Bitton partnering Derrick Luckassen as the two central defenders. Ofir Davidzada stepped in for Roy Revivo at left-back with Yvann Macon completing Maccabi’s back-four on the opposite right flank.

Joris van Overeem kept his place as the midfield anchorman with Dor Peretz and Gabi Kanichowsky who returned from international duty with Israel, were the two additional players in Maccabi’s midfield engine room. Felicio Milson on one side and Yonatan Cohen on the other supplied the width to Keane’s frontline which was spearheaded by Eran Zahavi. While Kanichowsky scored Israel’s late winner against Belarus at Bloomfield, Zahavi who was left out of the national team set-up once again was aiming to add to his impressive tally of 10 goals from 10 matches in all competitions.

New signing, Orlando Mosquera, wasn’t included in the squad as opposed to Avishay Cohen who was named amongst the substitutes. Kiko Bondoso who underwent knee surgery on Friday, began his recovery which is set to sideline him for around six weeks. On the substitutes bench Keane named: Daniel Tenenbaum, Avishay Cohen, Roy Revivo, Enric Saborit, Idan Nachmias, Dan Biton, Ido Shahar and Osher Davida all waiting to make an impact.

First Half

Maccabi dominated the game right from the start enjoying most of the possession with Bnei Reineh struggling to get out of their own half. Joris van Overeem, Dor Peretz and Gabi Kanichowsky dictated the pace with Yonatan Cohen and Milson down the flanks receiving enough of the ball but both wingers were lacking accuracy on their deliveries. In the 10th minute Cohen charged down the right and crossed the ball which reached Milson before the Angolan winger blasted his shot high and wide. Three minutes later and against the run of play Reineh came close as Henry Vaca curled a shot forcing Roi Mishpati to stretch himself and push the ball out.

Eran Zahavi snapped a right foot shot from the edge of the area which was equaled by Reineh’s keeper Gad Amos in the 20th minute. Seven minute later and in the space of 60 seconds, Cohen wasted two chances as he first ended a well-drilled corner with a shot that went wide. The forward was then let down by his own touch after he was teed-up by Kanichowsky in the area but couldn‘t direct his shot on target.

Five minutes after the half hour mark, Ofir Davidzada managed to keep in what seemed like a lost ball before charging down the left and sending a pinpoint cross into the path of Zahavi. The veteran marksman beat his marker at the near post but miscued his shot wide from almost point-blank range.

The fourth official indicated four minutes of added time, before a collision between Nir Bitton and Reineh’s forward Qays Ghanem left the Maccabi defender on the ground requiring medical treatment for a split forehead. When play resumed, Maccabi reached their best chance as Derrick Luckassen floated the ball over Reineh’s defense into the path of Cohen whose shot come cross rolled across the face of goal for a goal kick

Eight minutes inside injury time Maccabi were rewarded for their efforts as the deadlock was finally broken by Milson to the delight of the 20,029 fans. Van Overeem carved Reineh’s defense open as he released Yvann Macon whose cut-back was flicked by Kanichowsky then by Peretz before reaching Milson who fired home past Amos.

Second Half

The second half began just like the first one with Maccabi enjoying most of the possession without creating anything clinical while at the opposite Reineh threatened to score. In the 53rd minute Ghanem managed to turn Luckassen in the box but saw his snapshot beat Mishpati but strike the post. Four minutes later however the visitors were back on level terms as Eyad Hutbah’s cross found Shlomi Azulay unmarked at the far post as the veteran forward sent a first-time volley to level the score. Keane reacted almost instantly with a double substitution as Dan Biton came on for Kanichowsky while Osher Davida replaced Cohen.

In the 65th minute Biton came close to make his impact as Zahavi slipped him through, but Reineh’s keeper Gad Amos was quick to charge off his line and squander the chance.      

Zahavi came close three minutes later as Luckassen’s delicate chip over the top of Reineh’s defense left him with only Amos to beat but the 36-year-old saw his volley hit the base of the post. Davida’s silky skills took him past two Reineh defenders in the 71st minute, but the winger who was making his home debut sent his cross straight at the keeper. Keane made his third change of the game on 74 as Enric Saborit came on for Nir Bitton in defense.

In the 80th minute Keane made his two final substitutions as Avishai Cohen was handed his Maccabi debut replacing Macon at right back while Dor Turgeman came on for Peretz.

Maccabi threw everything forward in a desperate bid to snatch a late winner this time a Saborit ball over Reineh’s defense picked Davidzada who timed his run well. The 32-year-old left-back squared the ball to Biton whose flick from close range struck the post before Turgeman’s attempt to push in the rebound was blocked by Amos on his goal-line.

Biton then rifled a low powerful drive which crept wide of the post and despite eight minutes of added time due to Reineh’s time wasting, the visitors managed to hang on to the result.

Snir Levy’s full-time whistle left Maccabi’s players on the pitch frustrated knowing they now face a Conference League match against Breidablik before facing bitter city rivals Hapoel for the Tel Aviv derby next Tuesday.