Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to the top of the Premier League standings for at least 48 hours on Saturday, while Maccabi Haifa kept pace in the title race with a seventh win in eight matches.

Hapoel defeated Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 on the road, with Omer Damari scoring the opener after seven minutes thanks to a defensive blunder before a Tal Ben-Haim brace (51, 80) clinched all three points for the visitors.

Maccabi Tel Aviv can return to first place with a draw or better against Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.

“We were lethal when we broke forward,” said Hapoel coach Yossi Abuksis.

“This is a very tough and important road win.”

Two months after trailing the yellowand- blue in first place by 14 points, Maccabi Haifa closed to within just six points of the top on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Hapoel Acre 3-1 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.

Maharan Abu Riya gave Acre a surprise lead in the 21st minute, but Hen Ezra equalized in the 58th minute thanks to Weeam Amasha’s assist.

Amasha scored himself with a nifty move in the 74th minute before Ezra secured the victory (83).

“We didn’t play so well in the first half but I told the players that they need to continue and be patient and that the goals would come,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado, who extended his unbeaten run since replacing Reuven Atar to nine matches.

After going eight matches without a win, Maccabi Netanya made it two victories in a row on Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 2-0.

Ali Khatib (38) and Kobi Dajani (68) scored for Netanya, with David Revivo missing a 72nd-minute penalty for Ashdod, which lost for the sixth time in eight matches.

Hapoel Haifa remained in last place but picked up a precious point with a 1-1 draw at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.

Stefan Denkovic’s own goal (59) gave the reigning champion the lead, but Ran Abukarat (66) equalized for Haifa, which has lost just once in its past six matches.

Hapoel Ramat Hasharon climbed to fifth place on Saturday with its fourth win in five games, beating Bnei Yehuda 2-1.

Adam Hrepka (16) gave Bnei Yehuda the lead, but Omer Nusbaum (18) leveled the score before Efraim Aspa (84) headed in the winner.

On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Ramat Gan to Teddy Stadium four days after drawing 0-0 with Terek Grozny in a hastily-organized friendly encounter in Chechnya, Russia.

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