RECAP: WEEKEND ISRAELI ACTION
Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya pushed their unbeaten run to 16 games with a 2-2 draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv while Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona fell to Bnei Yehuda 2-1.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-2 Maccabi Netanya
With just two rounds to go in the Championship playoffs, Maccabi Netanya stretched their unbeaten streak to a new club record 16 games and maintained their hold on fourth place in the Israeli Premier League with a gutsy 2-2 road draw against Haopel Tel Aviv.
Soviet-born American Leo Krupnik started for Maccabi Netanya and went the distance in central defense.
Following a scoreless first half, Maccabi Netany forward Achmad Saba'a opened the scoring in the 57th minute when he collected a long high pass and, with his first touch, fired a low hard shot that Hapoel Tel Aviv keeper Vincent Enyeama was able to get a hand on but not stop. The ball trickled into the net and gave Netanya a 1-0 lead.
In the 70th minute Hapoel Tel Aviv would equalize when Toto Tamuz headed home a cross that beat Netanya keeper Carlos Arias to the far post to even the score at 1-1.
Just two minutes later in the 72nd minute Tamuz would strike again for the hosts. He collected a nifty pass that sent him in along against Arias on the left side. At 12 yards out, Tamuz quickly hit a well placed soft shot with his right foot that snuck past Arias to give Hapoel Tel Aviv a 2-1 lead.
In the 75th minute Maccabi Netanya would equalize when Hapoel Tel Aviv suffered a defensive breakdown.
On the play, Netanya were awarded a free kick just outside the box on the left side. Netanya elected to take the kick quickly which Tel Aviv were not expecting. A cross was sent to Netanya forward Sergiy Tretyak who was left alone. Tretyak had collected the ball 9 yards out and took his time. He then fired a laser past a helpless Enyeama for a 2-2 draw.
The draw kept Maccabi Netanya's quest for a Europa league birth alive ahead of what will be one of the club's most pivotal weeks in recent memory.
On Wednesday, Maccabi Netanya face Maccabi Haifa in the semifinals of the Israeli State Cup. Then on Saturday, they host Bnei Yehuda in the fourth round of the Premier League playoffs in an effort to move closer to the top three.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 1-2 Bnei Yehuda
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona saw their Europa League suffer a crushing blow on Saturday with a 2-1 home loss to Bnei Yehuda in the third round of the Israeli Championship playoffs.
American Bryan Gerzicich played a full 90 for Kiryat Shmona in central midfield.
Kiryat Shmona had a chance to pull ahead in the 43rd minute when they were awarded a penalty but Shimon Abuhatzira shot to the lower right corner was saved by Bnei Yehuda keeper Bamidele Aiyenugba.
Liroy Zairi put Bnei Yehuda ahead 1-0 in the 62nd when his left footed shot from 20 yards beat Shir Tzedek who should have made the save.
In the 83rd minute Zairi scored second when he happed home an easy goal for a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later in the 86th minute Ori Shitrit cut the deficit to 2-1 when he hit a spectacular volley from just inside the box to the top right corner past Aiyenugba. For Aiyenugba, it was the only blemish on what was otherwise a spectacular game.
For Kiryat Shmona they now sit in sixth place in the Championship playoffs and a chance to crack the top three is possibly too tough a chance to manage. They trail third place Maccabi Tel Aviv by six points with just two games remaining. Next Monday they travel to take on Maccabi Haifa.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona's season is far from complete however. This Wednesday they face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the semifinals of the Israeli State Cup. It is their first time in the semifinals of the tournament and a place in the finals may still yet qualify them for the Europa League.