Maccabi returned to Bloomfield stadium for the early Saturday kickoff match against newly promoted side Hapoel Petah Tikva aiming to record another victory which would keep the side at the top of the table. With 10 points from the opening 4 league matches and an impressive 13-2 goal tally, Robbie Keane made no changes to the side that beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 5-0 in midweek.

Roi Mishpati kept his place in goal with Enric Saborit and Nir Bitton lining-up as the two central defenders in front of him. Yvann Macon on the right and Roy Revivo on the left completed Maccabi’s defensive back-four. Joris van Overeem in the anchorman role was joined in midfield by Dor Peretz who scored a brace and Dan Biton who contributed a goal and an assist in the derby. Gabi Kanichowsky and Felicio Milson started once again as the two wide men with Eran Zahavi spearheading the attack and leading the team out with the captain’s armband.

On the bench, Keane named goalkeeper Daniel Tenenbaum, Avishay Cohen, Idan Nachmiass, Dor Turgeman, Yonatan Cohen, Eyal Golasa, Ofir Davidzada, Derrick Luckassen and Osher Davida.

Prior to kickoff, Maccabi held a ceremony to three of its former players: Noah Reznik who celebrated 90, as well as Etey Shechter and Avi Rikan who played for 3 and 8 seasons at Maccabi respectively.

First Half

Maccabi opened the match on the front foot and came close to score with less than two minutes on the clock. Dan Biton slid the ball through to Eran Zahavi who broke into the area before forcing Petah Tikva’s keeper Omer Katz to a double save. Three minutes later, Biton curled a free kick which fell to Enric Saborit whose flick shaved the base of the post and rolled out for a goal kick.

In the 12th minute Milson was tripped in the box and remained on the ground while referee David Fuxman waved play on. But the intervention of VAR saw Fuxman reverse his decision and award Maccabi a penalty. Zahavi stepped-up but his dual with Katz saw the former Maccabi youth academy keeper dive to his left, save the spot kick and deny Zahavi from opening the score.

Milson continued to look lively as the Angolan winger’s trickery in the 25th minute allowed him to skip past two defenders and charge into the box. Milson’s dangerous cross which sailed across the face of goal, was cleared by a Petah Tikva defender before Zahavi could head it Home from close range. Maccabi continued to dominate as three minutes later Gabi Kanichowsky tried his luck with a shot from the edge of the area which rocketed over the crossbar.

The visitors’ first serious threat on goal came in the 38th minute when Fortune Bassey blasted a right foot shot that forced a reaction from Roi Mishpati with the ball narrowly missing the target.

Second Half

As both coaches made no changes after the break, Maccabi emerged for the restart aiming to break the deadlock. Three minutes later Kanichowsky was brought down inside the area by Matan Gosha as Fuxman didn’t hesitate and pointed at the spot. Zahavi stepped-up to take the penalty which Katz saved once again this time with his feet. But the referee assistant spotted Petah Tikva’s keeper stepping off his line and signaled a retake. Zahavi didn’t hesitate and as opposed to his previous two attempts blasted the penalty home to finally open the scoring.

Zahavi came close to double his tally on the night as the veteran marksman turned on the edge of the area and snapped a fierce low drive which struck the base of the post.

In the 68th minute Milson charged into the area and sent a cross from byline which fell to Biton whose attempt of a chip just missed the target. At the opposite end Petah Tikva managed to get the ball in the back of Mishpati’s net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside rescuing Nir Bitton from an own goal . Robbie Keane made his first change in the 73rd minute as Avishai Cohen replaced Yvann Macon at right-back.

Rikan received a standing ovation from Maccabi fans as the Petah Tikva midfielder bowed out on 77. Two minutes later, Keane made another change introducing Eyal Golasa for van Overeem and Dor Turgeman for Biton. The impact was almost instant as Maccabi increased their lead with Milson releasing Zahavi whose chip was headed in by Turgeman at the back post. Roy Revivo and Milson were replaced on 86 by Ofir Davidzada and Osher Davida who were both introduced for the closing stages.

In the 89th minute Turgeman came close to score his second and Maccabi’s third but after skipping past two Petah Tikva defenders the 19-year-old’s shot was caught by Katz.

The final whistle confirmed Maccabi’s fourth victory in five matches as the team will turn their attention to Thursday’s trip to Gent in the Conference League before returning to face Hapoel Jerusalem at Teddy on Sunday.