1. Kfar Saba stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv at Levita Stadium on Saturday night pulling off a goalless draw and a split of the points. What is even more shocking is that the match pitted the team with the highest budget against that with the smallest in Israel’s first division. The Yellow-and-Blue likes of Eran Zahavi and Tal Ben Chaim couldn’t find a way past 40 year old keeper Ohad Cohen who made save after save against the high octane offense. The actual field dimensions must also rank up there with Kiryat Shemona as being one of the smallest in Israel, also an advantage to the Greens of the Sharon who tried numerous times to find a way past keeper Predrag Rajkovic especially with counter attacks. Congrats to Kfar Saba, they were the first team to pull off the defensive upset against Maccabi, one that a number of others have tried but failed.
2. Beitar Jerusalem needed a visiting keeper substitution to begin the second half to find a way to score a pair of goals and defeat Kiryat Shemona, but they did. How many times have we seen a team, especially Beitar get an opportunity to take advantage of a situation and not be able to capitalize on it. Well not this year. The current version of Beitar saw Guy Haimov go out with an injury and youngster Fadhi Zoabi come into the Kiryat Shemona goal and their eyes lit up knowing that after a poorly played first half this would be their chance to pump in a few goals. Nor only would they have a chance to score some goals but they would also be able to ensure that they would finish the first round of WINNER League matches in third place behind Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beer Sheva. And that’s exactly what they did.
First it was a terrific passing play by Dan Einbinder to Dusan Matovic who crossed it brilliantly to a streaking Lidor Cohen who put the ball behind the keeper. Then it was captain Omer Atzili who buried a penalty to finish off the visitors in front of only 4500 fans at a very cold Teddy Stadium. This was football at its finest and Beitar has been able to do just that throughout the 13 opening games of the year under new coach Slobodan Drapic. Play some fine football and pick up some fine points.
3. The Haifa Derby. What a game. Period. Incredible action and tons of tense moments for both sets of fans, those in red for Hapoel and those in green for Maccabi. This was a match that we kind of saw it all. Free kick goal. Red card. Penalty goal. Header of a corner kick goal. Tap in goal and a couple of beauties by Eliran Atar and Ismael Rian. We also got to see some very poor refereeing decisions as well by Eli Hachmon. This was a match with intensity, end to end action and some seriously nifty play. After a weekend of futility where we saw a grand total of 8 goals in 6 matches we ended up seeng 6 goals in 90 minutes. Football is a certainty a crazy game.
4. Maccabi Netanya under new coach Reuven Atar finally picked up their first point for the curly haired boss. However, the points were picked up in yet another scoreless draw against Hapoel Akko at the Netanya Stadium in front of over 7,000 fans. Why so many people for a not so attractive match? 10 NIS a ticket that’s why. And unfortunately the fans in attendance got exactly what they paid for, a poorly played match not even worth the 10NIS. The fans booed the players off of the field afterwards in a display of displeasure. Atar has plenty of work to do.