Ashdod SC extended its Premier League winning streak to five matches on Saturday, while Maccabi Haifa remained winless after drawing 0-0 at Hapoel Acre.

Until this season, Ashdod had never even won its first three games to start a campaign, but it moved to the top of the standings for at least 48 hours on Saturday with a convincing 3-0 home win over Maccabi Netanya.

Murad Abu Anza scored his second brace of the season (58, 69) and also provided the assist for Dimitar Makriev’s 66th-minute strike.

Ashdod will face its toughest test of the season so far next Saturday when it visits Maccabi Tel Aviv, which can return to first place with a win at Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.

Maccabi Haifa’s title aspirations are as good as over with the season just one month old after the Greens could only manage a goalless deadlock at Acre.

Haifa has picked up just two points from a possible 15, marking its worst ever start to a season, and coach Reuven Atar was lost for words after a bitterly disappointing performance in Acre.

“This is a horrible feeling,” said a distraught Atar. “I can only apologize.

The lack of confidence is visible on the players and there’s not much else to say. I’m just sorry.”

Yossi Abuksis’s tenure at Hapoel Tel Aviv got off to a winning start on Saturday, but he was far from pleased with his team’s display in its 1-0 victory over Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium.

Omer Damari scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 19th minute after a dubious call by referee Liran Liani.

Liani got it wrong again in the 52nd minute, sending off Hapoel midfielder Elroei Cohen, showing him a second yellow card for diving.

Sakhnin controlled the match after that, but couldn’t find the equalizer and remained bottom of the table.

“This was a very poor performance,” said Abuksis, who replaced the ailing Nitzan Shirazi on Friday. “We have plenty of work to do, but it is best to do it after a win. We dedicate this win to Nitzan.”

Betar Jerusalem is still searching for its first victory of the season after Hapoel Ramat Gan twice came back from behind to draw 2-2 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.

Amit Ben-Shushan scored the opener for Betar in the seventh minute, but the hosts dominated the remainder of the first half and were unlucky to be trailing at the break.

David Manga scored a deserved equalizer for Ramat Gan in the 74th minute, but just a minute later Eran Levy put Betar back in front.

However, Israel Zaguri scored with a cool finish in front of goal in the 88th minute to give Ramat Gan a wellearned point and deny Betar a win it desperately needed.

Champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona continued to flounder on Saturday, drawing 1-1 at Hapoel Haifa.

The fit-again Bryan Gerzicich gave Kiryat Shmona the lead with a header in the 43rd minute, but Maharan Lala tucked the equalizer into an open net 10 minutes from time after a defensive blunder by Salah Hasarma.

An 89th-minute own goal by Yaniv Lavi handed Bnei Yehuda a 2-2 draw against Hapoel Ramat Hasharon at Bloomfield.

Orr Barouch gave Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 23rd minute with his first goal for the club, but Lavi (44) and Or Ostvind (75) turned the match on its head to stun the local fans.

However, Lavi turned the ball into his own net one minute from time to ensure both teams remain tied on points and goal difference.

Roni Steinbach contributed to this report

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