Beitar Jerusalem midfielder Claudemir celebrates after netting his team’s equalizer in last night’s 3-1 win at Hapoel Ashkelon..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Beitar Jerusalem climbed to the top of the Premier League standings in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, with in-form striker Gaetan Varenne scoring 90 seconds after coming on as a substitute in the 86th minute to complete a comeback at Hapoel Ashkelon.
Beitar trailed through an own-goal from goalkeeper Boris Kleyman in the 56th minute. But despite a mediocre performance, Jerusalem registered its sixth victory from the past eight league matches, winning 3-1.
Claudemir equalized with a splendid free kick from 20 meters out in the 64th minute, his eighth goal from a set piece this season, before Varenne, who was an injury doubt for the match, found the back of the net for a sixth straight game over all competitions.
Erik Sabo secured the three points with an accurate penalty in the 89th minute.
Beitar moved one point ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv, which visits rock-bottom Hapoel Acre on Sunday. Hapoel Beersheba, which is one point further back, hosts Ashdod SC on Monday.
Hapoel Haifa remained in fourth place, one point behind Beersheba, after being held to a 1-1 draw by Hapoel Ra’anana.
Roei Zikri gave Ra’anana the lead on eight minutes. Ra’anana played with 10 men from the 37th minute after Or Dasa was sent off, but Haifa left with just one point after Maxim Plakuschenko (47) equalized.
While every team has at least four more matches to play until the end of the regular season, the identity of the top six sides who will play in the championship playoffs looks to have already been decided on Saturday.
Bnei Yehuda came back from a goal down to defeat Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1, while Ironi Kiryat Shmona was thrashed 4-0 by Maccabi Haifa.
Bnei Yehuda moved up to fifth place with 36 points, one ahead of Maccabi Netanya, which hosts Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday evening.
Petah Tikva remained on 27 points, eight back of Netanya.