The weekend’s solitary league fixture brought together two of the founder members of the Olim soccer league, with Jerusalem dominating Jaffa 9-1 in a surprising fashion. Past meetings between the two have often been tight affairs, with the outcome often hard to predict.
Jaffa was struck by a couple of absentees, with a last-minute pull-out from their goalkeeper not helping their cause. Jerusalem, too, were missing a few players, being forced into late changes, naming three debutants in their lineup.
The opening minutes were very tight with both sides looking to boss the middle of the park.
Jerusalem started to find another gear, and almost took the lead when Moishe Lewis headed against the post in the seventh minute.
The near miss invigorated the away side, with some excellent link-up play between new signings Matan Yechiel and Shlomi Nimni. It was the latter who became the provider as he whipped in a perfect cross for Mordy Weiler to head into the net, putting Jerusalem in front with only 11 minutes on the clock.
A three-minute stretch around the half-hour mark threatened to put the game to bed. Excellent link-up play with Yechiel put Weiler through to grab his second. With Jaffa looking to hit straight back, Jerusalem countered, with Yechiel this time providing Nimni with an inch-perfect pass to allow the debutant to put the visitors 3-0 up.
With the game threatening to run away from Jaffa at this early stage, they were thrown a lifeline when Yoni Schimmel gave away a penalty, which Nir HaCohen expertly dispatched. The goal lifted the home side, coming close on a couple of occasions, and the Jerusalemites were happy to reach the break with their two-goal lead still intact.
The second half started in a similar vein to the first, with the opening goal of the half coming five minutes after the interval. Lewis’ cross provided Weiler with the simplest of tap-ins to complete his hat-trick and restore Jerusalem’s three-goal lead.
Jaffa almost hit back on the hour, with goalkeeper Boerstra having to dive well to tip over the goal-bound shot.
But any chance of a Jaffa comeback was destroyed in a five-minute spell of “total football.” Akiva Zneimer showed some incredible individual skill, ghosting past three defenders before unleashing the goal of the game from 25 yards, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance. Within a minute, 5-1 became 6-1 as Lewis beat a tight offside call to leave himself in a one-on-one situation, making no mistake to maintain his goal-a-game form. A couple of minutes later, as Avinadav Kadin was put through by Yechiel to score his first goal for Jerusalem and make it 7-1.
There was time for two more goals before the referee brought an end to the proceedings, with Yechiel capping an impressive debut to slot past the goalkeeper before Weiler rounded off the scoring for his fourth, and Jerusalem’s ninth.
Jerusalem’s joint manager Danny Newman commented: “Last week was probably Jerusalem’s worst performance that I can remember. This week, the boys bounced back in resounding fashion, with one of the best team performances for some time. We were rather fortunate to meet Jaffa on an off day, but I feel that we would have beaten any side today.
“We are in transition, and the new faces are starting to gel. It is only a shame the season didn’t start last night, as I feel we have given the two sides ahead of us too much of a head start to threaten them for the title this year. We will look to build on this result, to pounce on any unexpected slip-up from the top two, with perhaps our best hope of silverware this year being a strong cup run.”