In-form Maccabi TA climbs to the top
By ALLON SINAI
Yellow-and-blue beats Ramat Gan 3-1 ahead of derby; Betar wins third straight.
Two more goals by Eliran Atar led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a 3-1 victory over Hapoel
Ramat Gan on Saturday night, taking the yellow-and-blue up to first place in the
Premier League standings ahead of next week’s derby against Hapoel Tel
After a goalless first half at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva,
Atar scored twice in less than two minutes (47, 48), taking his tally for the
season to nine goals in eight matches.
Maharan Radi clinched the three
points for Maccabi with a superb finish into the top left corner in the 65th
minute, with Ramat Gan failing to capitalize on Eitan Tibi’s own goal four
Ashdod, which entered the weekend top of the table ahead
of Maccabi on goal difference, dropped to second place after only managing a 0-0
tie at Hapoel Beersheba, which recorded its sixth draw in eight games this
“We had a very good 20 minutes at the start of the second half,”
said yellow- and-blue coach Oscar Garcia after seeing his team register its
seventh win in eight games. “We knew they would be tired in the second half, but
I’m not very happy with the last 20 minutes. We are not good enough to relax at
the end of matches.”
Betar Jerusalem continued its resurgence on
Saturday, beating Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 1-0 thanks to Avi Rikan’s goal in the
second minute of stoppage time.
It looked as if Betar would fail to build
on last week’s impressive 3-2 triumph over Hapoel Tel Aviv, but Rikan’s winner
at Teddy Stadium clinched its third consecutive victory and took it up to fifth
place two weeks after it found itself bottom of the standings.
“We had a
difficult time recovering from the match against Hapoel,” said Betar coach Eli
Cohen. “We worked very hard against a very tough team and our patience paid off
in the end.”
Reigning-champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona won for the first time
in six matches on Saturday, beating Hapoel Acre 1-0 through Sintiyahu Salalik’s
“I’m delighted with this win because it is the first
win of my career as a head coach and it was so hard to achieve,” said Kiryat
Shmona coach Barak Bachar, who replaced Gili Landau over a month ago. “We
haven’t played well in a while and we weren’t very good today, but I’ll take
Haifa’s two clubs will occupy the bottom of the standings for
at least 48 hours after Bnei Sakhnin defeated Hapoel Haifa 2-0 on Saturday, with
Maccabi Haifa not hosting Bnei Yehuda until Monday.
Sakhnin continued its
improvement of recent weeks with its second straight victory courtesy of goals
from Ahmed Kasoum (12) and Hamad Ganayem (38).
Maccabi Haifa has
collected just two more points (5) than its crosstown rival after winning only
once in its first seven matches, but it will be desperate to change that at
Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday.
On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv can close
back within three points of Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of next week’s showdown when
it visits Maccabi Netanya for the official inauguration of Netanya’s new NIS 240