Ra’anana’s rejuvenated squad ran rampant over Inter Tel Aviv in a league match last month, routing the newcomers 10-2.
Despite some early pressure from Ra’anana, fine saves and good defending from Inter left Ra’anana wondering where its first goal would come from. The answer took around 15 minutes, when Chanani Corney broke free down the left wing before delivering a fine ball across for Chaim Elimelech. He scuffed his first contact but managed to recover and scramble the ball over the line, giving Ra’anana the lead.
Chanani again showed his speed in the 25th minute, when he won the ball in the middle of the park and drove forward, rounding three players before striking a fine goal into the top left corner.
Complacency at the back allowed Inter back into the game. Ra’anana failed to clear a corner, allowing Mike Langer to net Inter’s first goal in the league. Just minutes before the break, Ra’anana regained its two-goal advantage. Gabi Kanikosfky held the ball up on the edge of the box looking for an option, eventually playing a delightful chip to Chanani across to his left. He laid on a perfect cross for Aviad Ben Meir – Ra’anana’s top scorer last season – to slot into the bottom right for a goal of the highest quality.
After the break and with the introduction of a faster pace, Ra’anana pushed higher up the pitch and forced Inter onto the ropes. Fast interchanging play by Ra’anana left the Inter defense chasing shadows. Aviad scored a further hat-trick of goals in quick succession, with excellent link-up play with Elimelech. With the game won at this point, Ra’anana settled into a good rhythm, allowing Gabi Kanikofsky the freedom to play some beautiful soccer and eventually get on the score sheet after rounding the goalkeeper.
Kanikofsky also turned playmaker for Ra’anana’s eighth goal, setting up Udi Hazan. Ben Meir later scored a penalty for his fifth goal of the night.
Inter pulled a goal back with five minutes on the clock, but any hopes of recovery had long since vanished. The goal-scoring ended as it started, as Elimelech used a strong finish to bag his second of the night.
Ra’anana co-coach Moshe Freedman said after the game, “We have a really strong squad this season, with the right blend of experience and youth. I believe this is the year that some of our younger players will prove their maturity and, combined with a strong backbone of veterans, we will go on this season to compete for the title.”