The much-anticipated Rishon Letzion derby turned out more lopsided than expected as Maccabi dominated Hapoel from wire to wire en route to a 34-27 Premier League victory.
Maccabi took control in the early going behind team favorites Ofer Luzon, Yoav Neeman and Marian Filip. After the trio put Maccabi up 13-8, Hapoel head coach Saar Frenkel called a time out but he was never able to swing the momentum back in Hapoel's favor. The game was pretty much over with 13 minutes left and Maccabi leading 26-20.
"It was painful," Frenkel said after his team's first loss of the season. "We lost our confidence and Maccabi punished us."
Oleg Butenko, Maccabi's head coach, said it was a great victory.
"The guys have a lot of heart," he said. "They gave a huge fight."
Filip led Maccabi with 11 goals, while Neeman added seven. Bojan Butulija led Rishon with nine goals.