Maccabi Haifa continued its climb up the Premier League standings on Saturday night, beating Maccabi Netanya 1-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium for its third straight win.

Yaniv Katan’s 23rd-minute penalty gave the Greens the lead, but Haifa just about eked out the victory despite playing with an extra man for most of the second half after Netanya’s Dragan Ceran was sent off in the 49th minute.

“Despite not playing well, the most important thing is that we won,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado, who has led the team to three consecutive victories since taking charge as Reuven Atar’s full-time replacement. “We have plenty to improve, but you need to know how to win these kinds of matches as well.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba claimed its third win in eight days after previously only registering a single victory in its first 10 matches of the season.

Elisha Levy’s team beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 1-0 on the road courtesy of Oded Gavish’s 37th-minute goal and jumped up to fifth place with its third straight triumph.

“I said earlier this season that it was too early to write us off,” a pleased Levy noted. “We were dropping points in matches in which we played well and I was very happy that even when we weren’t playing as well tonight we continued to work hard to maintain our lead.”

Hapoel Haifa coach Nir Klinger was in a defiant mood on Saturday despite seeing his team fail to claim a win once more, drawing 1-1 at Hapoel Ramat Gan.

Rock-bottom Haifa equalized in the 28th minute through Maharan Lala’s penalty after Israel Zaguri (11) gave the hosts the lead. Despite remaining with just a sole win this season, Klinger promised to fight on.

“I’m a pro and I have a responsibility towards this club to do my job as best as possible,” Klinger said. “I need to work hard so that we don’t fall apart like other teams in our situation did in the past. I don’t care what anyone else says.”

Also Saturday, Ashdod SC continued to lose ground on the top two, losing 2- 0 at Bnei Yehuda for its second straight defeat and third in its past four matches.

Pedro Galvan scored twice for Bnei Yehuda (18, 72), which snapped a two-game losing streak and climbed up to fourth, three points behind Ashdod.

“We played like a team in the first half, but we were a disgrace in the second,” said Ashdod coach Yossi Mizrahi. “This was just one of those days and we need to put it behind us as soon as possible.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv can return to first place for at least 24 hours when it hosts Hapoel Acre on Sunday.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, which currently leads the Reds on goal difference, faces Betar Jerusalem at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Monday, with Ironi Kiryat Shmona also visiting Bnei Sakhnin.

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