Soccer / Olim League / No longer Ra'ananing away with the league championship
Jaffa hammers league leader to tighten title race involving Jerusalem.
Coming off a 4-1 win over Aviv City, Jaffa FC continued their traditional late season surge with a 5-1 hammering of league leader Ra'anana. Jaffa dominated the early proceedings, with both Daniel Szyller and Rani Madmon seeing a few excellent opportunities stopped by Ra'anana goalkeeper Robin Burkman.
Ra'anana created a few chances with quick counterattacks, one which resulted in a rejected penalty shout. However, a few minutes before halftime, Jaffa made the breakthrough. Esi Bildosola made a brilliant run into the box, and finished with a low shot into the left corner. Down at halftime, Ra'anana came out looking to take control of the game. Within a few minutes, a long-range shot by Ariel Langer was deflected by Yosi Sandler, Jaffa's right back, leaving Simon Davies wrong-footed as the ball flew into the net.
Despite getting back into the game, Ra'anana quickly lost their way. Jaffa responded quickly with their dominant Irish center back, Stephen Caffrey, heading in a Madmon corner to give Jaffa the lead again. Jaffa continued to dominate the game, and scored again after another corner - Nir Tal's header was parried by Burkman, and Bildosola was on hand to power in the rebound.
With little space being afforded to Ra'anana's attacking talent, Jaffa looked to kill the game off but found Burkman in top form. The game was, however, put out of reach by Rani Madmon, who collected the rebound of his own shot, and calmly chipped the goalkeeper to give Jaffa a 4-1 lead.
Ra'anana's frustration began to boil over, and they soon found themselves with only 10 men on the pitch when star striker Aviad Ben Meir was red carded after reacting badly to losing the ball to Bildosola. Jaffa scored shortly afterward when Nir Hacohen beat his defender and gave Burkman no chance with a powerful finish.
Jaffa's emphatic win has given Jerusalem - two points behind Ra'anana with a game in hand - a chance to take over the lead this weekend when they face Aviv City. Jaffa, though still with a mathematical chance in the title race, will need to win their remaining three fixtures and hope for a lot of help if they are to take the title.
Avi Cohen, Ra'anana's comanager, said: "Jaffa wanted the game more than we did. We had a strong team, but lost our momentum, which is not like us. We look forward to a strong and tight battle for the league with Jerusalem and Jaffa."
Eyal Hoffman, Jaffa's midfield maestro, said his side was "struggling earlier this season, but we're finally coming back into form now that Simon Berkley [Jaffa manager] lets me play in my favored position."