Ra’anana maintained its perfect start to the new season with a convincing 7-0 victory over Olim League newcomer Real Jerusalem last weekend. Elsewhere, England bounced back from an early Modi’in goal to triumph 5-1, Ashdod survived Aviv City’s late charge to win 6-5, and Jerusalem mauled new boys Athletico 8-1.
The Ra’anana-Real game started slowly with both teams making some sloppy mistakes, but the breakthrough came in the 20th minute when Ra’anana super striker Aviad Ben Meir was put through on goal and slipped the ball past the Real goalkeeper. Ra’anana’s second goal came soon after, when Ben Meir ran on to a long ball over the top and managed to lob the oncoming Real keeper. Just before halftime, the third was scored by Haim Elimelech, after some slick passing through the middle by Meir and Akiva Aronson.
After the break Ra’anana was awarded a free kick outside the area. Naphtalie Kanichowsky stepped up, took the free kick and after the initial save from the keeper, Meir was there to score from the rebound. At 4-0 the game became a little aggressive and the yellow cards started coming out.
The last 20 minutes saw another three goals, one more for Aronson, another for Meir and one for Ra’anana debutant Aviv Cohen. Man of the match was Ben Meir after scoring four, but this was a great team performance.
Ra’anana seems to have found a balance of youth and experience, and manager Moshe Freedman should be very excited for the season ahead. “We did not expect to win with such conviction. The players really came together as a team,” he said after the game. “I think our new additions from Anglia FC gave us the experience at the back we lacked last season.”
Elsewhere in the league, Modi’in came flying out the blocks, with midfielder Omri dictating play against England. Modi’in scored a deserved goal after 10 minutes when a nice move down the right found the Modi’in striker unmarked in the area to sweep home.
Modi’in was winning battles all over the pitch, so when Roy Ben Zihou crept behind the Modi’in defense and lifted the ball over the goalkeeper, it was completely against the run of play. Modi’in was convinced of offside, but the ref allowed the equalizer.
With their tails up, England started to win the midfield battle. In the 35th minute, Motti Colman pounced on a ball across the Modi’in back four, only to be brought down as he was about to shoot. From the resulting free kick, Sidi spotted a gap at the edge of the wall and expertly curled the ball home from 25 yards to make it 2-1 to England.
The second half continued the same way as the first ended, with England pressing Modi’in all over the pitch. With almost his first touch after coming off the bench, Eliott Hollander pounced on a loose ball to chip the keeper from 20 yards, making it 3-1.
Nicky Plotneck, who was dominating the midfield arena, then managed to control a miskicked clearance and played in Omri Hamama, who slipped the ball under the onrushing ‘keeper.
With only a few minutes remaining, an England corner was cleared to the edge of the area, and Gabi caught the ball full on the volley to smash it into the bottom corner - reminiscent of Steve Gerrard against Germany in 2001.
In Ashdod, the hosts resisted Aviv City’s early pressure, proceeding with counterattacks from their trio of pacy strikers to go 3-0 up in the first 30 minutes. It didn’t help Aviv that it was playing without its regular goalie.
Aviv then managed to pull a goal back, but it was all in vain as Ashdod found the net again before the end of the first half to make the score 4-1.
Ashdod, missing several regular defenders, knew the second half was going to be tough. As anticipated, Aviv continued to push with its talented forwards and brought the score to 4-2. Aviv’s attacking hunger left its defenders very isolated, though, and Ashdod again scored on the break to make the score 5-2. The two sides then swapped another pair of goals.
With only a few minutes left Aviv City pulled out all the stops and managed to get two quick goals, but Ashdod held on by the skin of its teeth and won 6-5
Over in Jerusalem, the technical visitors looked very much at home as they demolished Athletico, which shares the same ground.
Despite still missing its first choice and reserve ‘keepers, a couple of midfielders and one of its star strikers through injury, a strong-looking Jerusalem quickly got to grips putting Athletico firmly on the back foot from the start.
The opener came after about 10 minutes, with Amit Dinowitz scoring for the second consecutive week. Jerusalem never looked back after that, with new signing and man-of-the-match Zack Lewis ultimately taking the plaudits, scoring four goals in his debut. Despite the dominance of Jerusalem, Athletico never let their heads drop, constantly looking to get back into the game.
Jerusalem’s goals were spread around the front men and wingers, with Dinowitz scoring two, and Akiva Zneimer and Eli Warner scoring one apiece.
The only downside for Jerusalem were injuries to Danny Newman and Lollu Hibbert midway through the second half. But with no fixture next week, Jerusalem hopes to be close to full strength when it hosts an impressive Ashdod team in two weeks’ time.
“It was great seeing such a strong performance from the entire team,with the new boys slotting well into the side. Zack was on fire tonight, but special mention must also go to full back Aron Luftig, who put in a commendable display in goal,” commented player-manager Newman.
In the league’s final match of the weekend, Jaffa lost 3-1 to MS Bambi.
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