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Multiple upsets to open soccer campaign

CM 30/08/2021

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The Israeli soccer season got under way over the weekend with a number of surprising results after a pair of clubs punched their ticket to the UEFA Conference League Group Stages.
Up in the Galilee, Bnei Sakhnin overcame an early deficit to Maccabi Tel Aviv to record a 3-1 win at Doha Stadium.
Enric Saborit gave the yellow-and-blue a 1-0 lead from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, but Abdallah Jaber found the equalizer 20 minutes later to send the game into the second half all knotted up at 1-1.

Raz Stain then found himself wide open from 12 meters out and put the ball into the top corner of Daniel Peretz’s goal to give Sharon Mimer’s squad a shocking 2-1 lead in the 74th minute. As Patrick Van Leeuwen’s side looked for a split of the points, Nir Lax went steaming down the pitch and scored from a tough angle to hand Sakhnin the dominant two-goal win.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Ashdod SC 2-1 as the Reds controlled the game from the outset at Bloomfield Stadium.
Ashdod SC vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN /BSL)Ashdod SC vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN /BSL)
After a goalless first half, Doron Leidner opened the scoring when his low shot from long distance skipped by Ashdod ’keeper Yoav Gerafi to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 59th minute. Ofek Bitton doubled the advantage in the 88th minute also from outside of the box as it looked that Hapoel Tel Aviv would cruise to the victory.
However, just two minutes later Oz Bilu cut the advantage to 2-1 when his shot went off of a Hapoel defender to put a scare into the hosts, though Ashdod was unable to find the goal once more as the Reds recorded the win.
In the capital city, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Beersheba began the game at a frantic pace with each side trading chances as the yellow-and-black almost grabbed the lead off an Eden Gyasi header only for Ariel Harush to make the timely save.
Roni Levy’s squad tried to break through the Beitar defense, but time and time again ’keeper Itamar Nitzan was in place to make the stop as the first half ended goalless.
Beersheba began to press for a go-ahead goal and found it when an unattended Itay Shechter stabbed home a Ramzi Safouri free kick in the 55th minute. The Southern Reds doubled their advantage a quarter hour later when Safouri slotted home a penalty to wrap up the victory and the three points.
Also, Hapoel Hadera played superbly against Maccabi Haifa to stymie the defending champs and take a point in a goalless draw at the Netanya Stadium.
Menachem Korertzky’s squad had the better scoring chances throughout the 90 minutes as Muhammad Ghadir missed a pair of terrific opportunities from in close that would have given the hosts the win.
But it wasn’t meant to be as the teams split the points, leaving the Greens and their coach Barak Bachar disappointed with their season opening result.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Ironi Kiryat Shmona played to a 1-1 draw to split the points at the Moshava Stadium.
Stefen Milosevic gave the visiting northern squad a surprise 1-0 lead as the Montenegrin striker put home a poor clearance by the Petah Tikva defense in the 23rd minute.
However, James Adeniyi was pulled down in the box in the second half as Shimon Daniel converted the spot kick to earn a point.
Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Netanya played to a dull goalless draw at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
On Monday night, promoted clubs Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Nof Hagalil face off in their return to the top flight.
In European play, both Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv eased into the UEFA Conference League Group Stages with home victories while Hapoel Beersheba was eliminated in Cyprus to end its continental campaign on a bitter note.
Maccabi Haifa downed Neftchi Baku 4-0 at Sammy Ofer Stadium to win the playoff round matchup 7-3 on aggregate.
Bachar’s squad controlled the pace of play right from the opening whistle and grabbed a well-deserved 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Sun Menachem headed home a perfect Omer Atzily free kick. The hosts doubled their advantage in first-half injury time when an active Atzily volleyed a gorgeous ball behind a helpless Neftchi ’keeper Agil Mammadov after a Tjarron Chery rebound for a 2-0 lead.
Atzily was once again at the center of attention when he was pulled down in the box allowing Dolev Haziza to score from the penalty spot for a 3-0 advantage early on in the second half. Muhammad Abu Fani then got into the act as well and sealed the deal in the 69th minute with an absolute scorcher from outside of the box to send Haifa into the group stages where they were drawn to play in Group E with Slavia Prague, Feyenoord and Union Berlin.
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Shakhter Karagandy 2-0 to move into the group stages with a 4-1 aggregate win over the Kazakhstan side.
Winger Tal Ben Haim sent a ball into the Karagandy area that yellow-and-blue newcomer Idan Nachmias nodded into the goal for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
Then just ahead of the half-time break, midfielder Dan Glazer’s shot from outside the box found its way past ’keeper Igor Shatskiy to snatch a 2-0 lead which held up.
Van Leeuwen’s team will now move into the group stages, where it will face LASK, Alashkert and HJK Helsinki.
Hapoel Beersheba ended up on the wrong side of a 3-1 defeat against Anorthosis in Cyprus as the Southern Reds were knocked out of European play.
Kostakis Artymatas gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute of play, but a Shechter goal 30 minutes later pulled Levy’s crew even just ahead of halftime.
However, Elton Acolatse was shown his second yellow card in the 45th minute after a reckless foul and left Beersheba with only 10 men for the entire second half as Lazaros Christodoulopoulos bagged a brace to eliminate the Reds.
As for the Israelis abroad, Manor Solomon and Shakhtar Donetsk punched their ticket to the Champions League group stages with a 3-2 aggregate win over Monaco and were drawn into a group with Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Sheriff Tiraspol.
Eran Zahavi and PSV were drawn into a Europa League group with Monaco, Real Sociedad and Sturm Graz, while Liel Abada and Celtic will face Bayer Leverkusen, Real Betis and Ferencvaros in group play.
Finally, Eli Dasa and Vitesse will participate in the Conference League group stages against Tottenham, Rennes and Mura.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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