Yaniv Elul's goal at 72 minutes helped Bnei Yehuda gain a draw in yesterday's mini Tel Aviv derby against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield.
Yossi Shivhon put Maccabi ahead at 38 minutes after receiving a nice cross pass from Yuval Spungin, but Elul - replacing the injured Eli Abarbanel, who had in turn replaced the injured Itzik Azuz - helped give Bnei Yehuda its hard-earned point.
Maccabi coach Eli Cohen was disappointed with the result.
"It's not characteristic of us to play the way we did in the second half," he said. "Bnei Yehuda barely attacked, and afterward they almost won. Apparently, this is a bad week for the league leaders. It's a real shame that we lost the chance to move up in the standings. We should have continued to attack after the first goal. We're missing a striker who can go one on one and decide a contest."
Shivhon agreed with Cohen's assessment. "We didn't play well today. We very much wanted to win, and it's a shame, because these are games that we need to win. Last week we also weren't at our best, but we agreed to win. To remain at the top, we need to win these kind of games."
Bnei Yehuda manager Nitzan Shirazi was realistic about his team's performance. "It's not pleasant to play with two substitutes in the first. We're satisfied with the goal we scored, but disappointed that we gave up a goal in a stationary position. This wasn't our best game, particularly in the first half, but in the second half we tied things up, and could have finished with three points."
With the draw, Maccabi failed to move to within 2 points of league leader Beitar Jerusalem, and remains in fourth place with 28 points. The team appeared to be concentrating more on the bigger derby against Hapoel Tel Aviv in its next contest.
Bnei Yehuda remains in ninth place, but with yesterday's draw, the team has distanced itself a bit from the bottom, with 16 points.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now