The final round of regular Premier League play ended on Sunday with an emphatic 5-0 win by runaway leader Maccabi Tel Aviv over controversy-ridden Beitar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa.
The game was painted yellow from the outset, as recent signing from Palermo Eran Zahavi scored his first goal for his new club in the eighth minute to put the hosts ahead.
Maccabi’s players and fans began to celebrate prematurely what could well be their first Premier League title in 10 years, as the game itself turned into one big celebration. But the home team’s domination failed to produce a second goal until 10 minutes into the second half, when Eliran Atar broke through the Jerusalem defense to set up the always dangerous Swedish forward Rade Prica.
Atar made it 3-0 minutes later when his shot from a corner kick was deflected into Beitar goalkeeper Ariel Harush’s net. Moanes Dabour headed in the fourth goal with six minutes left on the clock, then fired in the final goal two minutes later following a mazy run from midfielder Maharan Radi that left the visiting defenders helpless.
Beitar coach Eli Cohen, whose team now has to compete in the lower-tier playoff, sounded despondent after the game: “The teams were not balanced. I am ashamed and insulted by this performance. My teams have never conceded five goals in a game. We had a good period but it is now over."
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia was typically unwilling to make any rash proclamations. “I am happy and proud of my players for this performance. The only thing that interests us right now is the next game. That’s our way."