Gili Vermut (left), Ofir Davidzada (right).
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv recorded its third win in a row on Saturday night, handing Hapoel Beersheba its first defeat of the campaign, while Maccabi Haifa’s dismal season continued with a fifth loss in six matches.
Gili Vermut’s penalty in the third minute of stoppage time gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a 3-2 victory at Bloomfield Stadium, capping a dream week for the midfielder after he scored the opener in Israel’s 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Euro 2016 qualification.
Harmony Ikande gave the hosts the lead with a stunning strike from 30 meters out in the 36th minute, with Shay Abutbul (59) doubling Tel Aviv’s advantage with an accurate free kick from the edge of the box.
However, Maor Buzaglo looked to have given Beersheba a point with a fantastic brace over eight minutes (70, 77) before a controversial decision by referee Eli Hakhmon decided the match.
Hakhmon awarded the hosts a penalty after adjudging that Buzaglo handled the ball just inside the box and Vermut stepped up to give his team a third straight victory when not taking into account the abandoned Tel Aviv derby.
“This is a great win for us,” said Vermut.
“This was one of our better matches of the season. We defended well and surprised them on the break.”
Beersheba coach Elisha Levy was furious and blamed Hakhmon for snapping his team’s eight-match unbeaten run to start the season.
“It wasn’t a penalty and it is a shame that decision made the difference,” said Levy.
After finally returning to winning ways in its previous match, Maccabi Haifa dropped to yet another dejecting defeat on Saturday, losing 1-0 at Ashdod SC.
Spanish midfielder Michel’s own goal in the 81st minute handed Ashdod just its second win of the season, ending a fourmatch losing streak.
Haifa fell to its sixth loss in nine contests this season and its fifth defeat in five road games.
“They had one chance and scored a goal and won,” explained Haifa coach Aleksandar Stanojevic, whose team has failed to find the back of the net in four of its past five games. “I don’t know what our problem is in attack but we must solve this.”
Maccabi Netanya continued its recent resurgence on Saturday with a 1-0 home win over Hapoel Ra’anana. Shimon Harush scored the only goal of the match in the 19th minute to secure Netanya its third victory in five encounters after going winless in its first four games.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Petah Tikva drew 1-1, with Maharan Lala (32) netting the opener for the former before Liroy Zhairi (72) equalized. The match between Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Acre ended in a goalless deadlock.
On Sunday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Beitar Jerusalem at Doha Stadium under heightened security (see page 3). Police had initially decided that Doha was unfit for the volatile showdown, but eventually gave the go-ahead after another examination on Friday.
On Monday, league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona welcomes second-place Maccabi Tel Aviv.