BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, December 29, 2011
Bryan Gerzicich and surprising league leaders Kiryat Shmona cruised to a win over Hapoel Petah Tikva while Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya snuck by Maccabi Petah Tikva to end their losing skid.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 2 - 0 Hapoel Petah Tikva
The smallest club in the Israeli Premier League now sits comfortably in first place as Hapoel Kiryat Shmona opened up a six point lead with a win over last place Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Los Angeles-born Bryan Gerzicich started and went the full 90 in his usual defensive midfield position.
The game got off to a very bad start for Kiryat Shmona as star forward Barak Badash went down with an injury in the 24th minute. He is expected to miss six weeks. In the second half Badash's replacement Beni Zaken also had to be subbed out with an injury.
Despite controlling the play, it wasn't until the 77th minute when Kiryat Shmona finally broke the scoreless deadlock.
On the play Elad Gabai sent in a cross that found Shimon Abuhatzira in the box. Abuhatzira headed the ball down and back across the goal where it found Ahmad Abed who slammed it home off the crossbar.
In third minute of stoppage time, Kiryat Shmona sealed the deal when forward Shlomi Azulay forced a turnover and fed Abuhatzira to begin a counter attack. Abuhatzira then hit Azulay who was streaking in the box. Azulay fired a shot that deflected off a defender and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
With the win Kiryat Shmona now move forward with a six point lead but on Monday they will face second place Ashdod without their best forward in Badash. A win would give Kiryat Shmona a commanding lead in their push for the title and a spot in the Champions League.
Maccabi Petah Tikva 0 - 1 Maccabi Netanya
Maccabi Netanya ended their five game winless streak on Wednesday with a 1-0 win on the road against Maccabi Petah Tikva at HaMoshava Stadium.
American Leo Krupnik started and went the distance for Maccabi Netanya in central defense.
The game was even throughout but Maccabi Netanya found the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute when Hen Ezra hit the back of the net to give Netanya a lead it would not relinquish.
With the win, Maccabi Netanya moves back into the top ten where they now sit in eighth place with 26 points through 18 games. The standings remain tight in the middle of the table and they trail fifth place Maccabi Haifa by just one point.
Maccabi Netanya will return home on Saturday to take on Bnei Yehuda at Sar Tov Stadium.
Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-1 Hapoel Acre
After starting off the Israeli Premier League season poorly, Hapoel Be'er Sheva's recent strong play continued as they defeated Hapoel Acre 2-1 at home on Wednesday for their fourth win in their previous five games.
New Jersey native Ryan Adeleye started and played the first 70 minutes for Hapoel Be'er Sheva at right fullback.
Be'er Sheva forward Dovev Gabay opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a goal from five yards out to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after halftime in the 49th minute Hapoel Acre equalized when second half substitute Sintiahau Solelik found Argentine forward Nicholas Falczuk who sent a shot past Be'er Sheva keeper Ohad Levita to even the score at 1-1.
In the 80th minute, Hapoel Be'er Sheva found the eventual winner when Yossi Shivchon made a nice move in the box and beat Hapoel Acre keeper Guy Dayan for a 2-1 lead.
Hapoel Be'er Sheva return to action on Saturday when they visit Ironi Ramat Hasharon FC.