RECAP: WEEKEND ISRAELI ACTION
Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona leaped into first place with an impressive victory over the defending champions while Leo Krupnik scored an own goal for Maccabi Netanya in their draw with Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-4 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona
Despite being a newly promoted team, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona proved on Saturday that they will be a contender this year in the Israeli Premier League as they defeated the defending champions, Hapoel Tel Aviv, on the road in convincing fashion to move into first place in the league.
American Bryan Gerzicich played a full 90 for Kiryat Shmona in central midfield where he has played every minute for the club this season. They have yet to lose and have earned ten points in four games.
Kiryat Shmona was led by a fantastic effort from forward Wiyam Amashe who scored a hat-trick on Saturday bringing his goal total to five so far on the young season.
Hapoel Tel Aviv opened the scoring early in the 10th minute when Israeli international, Itay Shechter, brought the hosts into the lead netting from close range when he hammered into the top of the goal a pass from the left wing via former Chelsea and Espanyol winger Ben Sahar.
After controlling most of the game, Kiryat Shmona would draw even 15 minutes later in the 25th minute when Amashe would score his first of the game when he connected with Elroy Cohen, the talented Israeli U21 midfielder who has been enjoying a strong start to the season.
Gerzicich would create a turnover in the midfield and eventually get the ball to Cohen just outside the box. While running towards the goal, Amashe received a nifty pass from Cohen and unleashed a shot that ricocheted off both the left and right posts and then into the net for the equalizer.
Kiryat Shmona took their first lead of the game in the 37th minute when Cohen got the ball in midfield and unleashed a through-ball that connected with Zambian midfielder William Njovu putting him in alone against Hapoel Tel Aviv keeper Vincent Enyeama.
Njovu dribbled left around Enyeama and scored to give Kiryat Shmona a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.
In the 54th minute, Shechter pulled the hosts even with his second goal of the game when substitute Nigerian forward Toto Tamuz sent in a looping pass from the left side that Shechter was able to control then beat several defenders and eventually hammered home to make it 2-2.
Amashe put the guests into the lead in the 67th minute again when he converted off an errant backpass from Hapoel Tel Aviv defender Avihai Yadin.
Amashe finished off his hat-trick performance and put the game out of reach in the 74th minute when he scored the goal of the game.
Njovu led the counter attack down the left side then swung a cross-field pass to Amashe who unleashed a powerful and bending shot from 25 yards around the keeper into left corner of the net.
The difficult day for Hapoel Tel Aviv was only made worse in the 83rd minute when any chance they had of making a comeback were dashed when their Brazilian central defender Douglas da Silva was shown a direct red card for intentionally stepping on Kiryat Shmona midfielder Adrian Rochet.
The terrific performance from Kiryat Shmona was one of the more impressive games by any team so far in the Israeli season. They became the first team to defeat Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium in over a year in league play.
Hapoel Tel Aviv will have to regroup soon because their next match is on Wednesday when they host Olympique Lyon in the UEFA Champions League.
They will return to league play next weekend when they travel north up the coast to take on Maccabi Netanya.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona will look to continue their undefeated first place campaign next weekend when they return home to host last place Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Hapoel Petah Tikva 1-1 Maccabi Netanya
Maccabi Netanya had been off to a very strong start in the Israeli Premier League this season but needed a late equalizer from forward Achmad Saba'a to earn a point against relegation contenders Hapoel Petah Tikva.
American defender Leo Krupnik started and played a full 90 for Maccabi Netanya but was responsible for his team falling behind when he scored an own goal in the 64th minute to give Hapoel Petah Tikva an unexpected 1-0 lead.
After a first half where neither team had many clear chances to score, things would open up in the second half.
In the 50th minute Petah Tikva had their best chance of the game to that point when midfielder Guy Zarfati's shot hit the post
In the 63rd minute, Petah Tikva took the lead when a Emmanuel Mathias cross from the right side hit a series of deflections along the way then bounced off Krupnik and into the net.
Following the goal, Maccabi Netanya controlled play and pushed for the equalizer. After having many chances come to nothing, they would finally break through in the final minutes.
In the 85th minute Firas Mugrabi was able to send a pass from the wing which found Saba'a near the goal. Saba'a was able to then score from close range to level the score.
Maccabi Netanya continued to be the more active team in the game's closing minutes but their ability to take the lead took a hit in the 89th minute when Mugrabi picked up his second yellow card and reduced the club to 10 men.
Hapoel Petah Tikva next has a difficult game against Maccabi Tel Aviv next weekend.
Maccabit Netanya will play again next weekend when they return home to face Premier League defending champions Hapoel Tel Aviv at Sar-Tov Stadium.
Ryan Adeleye saw his first minutes of the season for Hapoel Be'er Sheva when he came off the bench in the 55th minute with his club already trailing 4-1 to Beitar Jerusalem. Unfortunately the scoreline did not improve and Beitar Jerusalem would score one more time to make the final score 5-1.