Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Eran Zahavi scored in a record 10th consecutive Premier League match on Sunday night to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Hapoel Acre in Netanya.
Maccabi’s 27-year-old midfielder entered the match tied with Moti Kakon, who found the back of the net in nine straight games for Hapoel Petah Tikva in 1997. Zahavi didn’t wait long to break the record, converting a penalty in the sixth minute after a Yuval Avidor handball. He took his tally over the 10 match streak - stretching back to last season - to 15 goals with a superb strike from 20 meters out in the 15th minute before Omri Ben-Harush (41) and Barak Badash completed the rout (72). Hamdi Salihi netted a consolation goal in the 91st minute for Acre, which remains rooted to the bottom of the standings.
Maccabi’s fourth win in five matches this season moved it up to second place, one point behind league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona. The yellow-andblue will be confident of continuing its strong start to the campaign when it hosts Ashdod SC on Wednesday. The two-time defending champion is hoping to emulate its fast starts in the past two seasons, winning seven of eight contests in 2012/13 and six of seven last term.
Despite finally scoring his first goal for the club in last week’s 3-1 win over Maccabi Haifa, Tel Aviv striker Eden Ben-Basat once more watched the entire match from the bench on Sunday. The expensive summer recruit couldn’t hide his frustration after being told to return to his seat following a long warm-up session. Fellow out-of-favor striker Rade Prica was also an unused substitute and the two can only hope that Maccabi’s busy schedule over the next week, which also includes a match against Hapoel Tel Aviv next Monday, will result in coach Pako Ayestaran handing them another opportunity.
On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem renew their bitter rivalry at Bloomfield Stadium. Both teams are coming off disappointing draws and are desperate for a win in order to keep pace with the leading pack.
Hapoel could only manage a 1-1 draw at Bnei Sakhnin last week, and that was only thanks to a 92nd-minute own-goal.
“Every week is a new test for us and I have no doubt that the players will prove how good they are against Beitar,” said Hapoel coach Asi Domb, who played for Beitar in 1996/97 and between 1998 and 2000. “As someone who won a title or two at Beitar I know the dynamics of the club and its weaknesses. I will pass all that information on to my players.
“So far I’m pleased with what I’ve seen from my players,” Domb added.
“We are undergoing a rebuilding process and we will see how good we are against Beitar. Our goal is to try and win every match.”
Beitar is still undefeated through four matches this season, but has claimed just a single victory after being held to a 1-1 draw by Ashdod SC last week.
Over 4,000 Beitar fans are expected at Bloomfield, ensuring there will be an excellent atmosphere at the stadium, with 300 stewards and a similar amount of policemen to keep the peace at the ground.
“We played well against Ashdod, controlled the game and should have won,” Beitar coach Menahem Koretzki told his players. “We need to build on that performance and kill off the game when we are playing well.”