Yellow-and-blue looks to create some space

After an unlikely combination of results saw Maccabi Tel Aviv return to the summit of the Premier League standings last weekend.

By
March 2, 2018 04:03
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Spanish midfielder Jose Rodriguez looks to build on his impressive performance

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Spanish midfielder Jose Rodriguez looks to build on his impressive performance in last weekend’s 4-0 win over Hapoel Haifa when the yellow-and-blue visits Ashdod SC on Saturday. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

After an unlikely combination of results saw Maccabi Tel Aviv return to the summit of the Premier League standings last weekend, the yellow-and-blue aims to strengthen its hold on first place when it visits Ashdod SC on Saturday.

Maccabi entered last weekend’s action knowing that only a win by four goals or more against fourth-placed Hapoel Haifa, combined with a draw in the encounter between Hapoel Beersheba and Beitar Jerusalem, but no higher than 2-2, would see it leapfrog into first place.

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Substitute Ofir Davidzada’s strike seven minutes from time secured Maccabi’s impressive 4-0 triumph last Saturday and the yellow-and-blue remained in first position when Beersheba and Beitar drew 1-1 a day later.

The three-headed battle for the championship could hardly be tighter, with Maccabi and Beersheba tied on 51 points with a plus-22 goal difference, but Tel Aviv having the edge as it has scored more goals.

Beitar is one point back and has a plus-25 goal difference.

With Beersheba and Beitar not in action until Sunday, Maccabi can put some pressure on its rivals with a victory in Ashdod.

Beersheba visits Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Sunday, four days after losing 1-0 to the northerners in the second leg of the State Cup quarterfinals to drop to a 2-1 aggregate defeat.

Beitar, which advanced to the cup semis on Wednesday with a 2-0 aggregate win over Hapoel Kfar Saba, hosts rock-bottom Hapoel Acre.

Maccabi is unbeaten on the road in league action for more than four months, a seven-match streak that started after it lost 2-1 in Beersheba at the end of October. Tel Aviv has won four of its past five road games, but coach Jordi Cruyff is expecting a touch challenge against Ashdod, which drew 1-1 with Maccabi when the teams met for the first time this season.

Ashdod is coming off a painful 2-1 defeat to Hapoel Ra’anana which left it one spot and four points above the relegation zone. Ashdod was then knocked out of the cup by Ra’anana on Wednesday, losing 5-3 on penalties.

Elsewhere Saturday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Hapoel Ashkelon, Ra’anana visits Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Sakhnin welcomes Bnei Yehuda. Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Haifa on Monday.


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