Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba maintained the status quo at the top of the Premier League standings on Saturday, with both claiming road victories.
Maccabi defeated Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 3-0 for its ninth victory in the past 10 matches to regain a three-point lead over Beersheba.
Maharan Radi’s bullet from the edge of the area handed Tel Aviv the lead in the 25th minute before defender Carlos Garcia (53) scored his first goal for the club since joining in the summer of 2012. Dor Micha netted the goal of the match with an accurate chip from 20 meters out with 10 minutes to play.
Maccabi’s only defeat over its last 10 games came at Ironi Kiryat Shmona two weeks ago, but Beersheba claimed all three points up north with a 1-0 win on Saturday.
Dovev Gabai scored the only goal of the contest in the eighth minute, netting his sixth goal in the past five matches.
“We played the way we needed to in one of the toughest stadiums in the league,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We faced a very stern test and we passed it.”
Levy still refused to talk up his team’s chances of winning the championship, but believes Beersheba has yet to realize its full potential.
“We look to win every match we play in every stadium,” added Levy.
“We have experienced a great season so far, but we want more. We have massive potential and I hope we will continue to improve with every match.”
Despite another mediocre performance, Maccabi Haifa moved to within just a single point of third place on Saturday thanks to a 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Idan Vered scored the winner in the ninth minute.
Bnei Sakhnin remained in third place, but failed to win for a fourth straight match, drawing 0-0 at Ashdod SC.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Hapoel Haifa following Maharan Lala’s 93rd-minute equalizer.
English striker James Keene gave Bnei Yehuda the lead after just four minutes at Bloomfield Stadium and the hosts were ideally placed at the break following Liroy Zhairi’s 44th-minute goal.
However, Lala handed Haifa a lifeline in the 77th minute with his first goal since the first match of the season five months ago and leveled the score three minutes into stoppage time, meaning the naïve Bnei Yehuda has conceded nine goals after the 88th minute in its league matches so far this season.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ra’anana drew 0-0.
Hapoel Tel Aviv welcomes Beitar Jerusalem to the Netanya Stadium on Sunday. Hapoel was punished to play the match away from Bloomfield Stadium due to its fans’ unruly behavior in the recent Tel Aviv derby.
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