After overcoming Hapoel Tel Aviv in a nervy derby affair earlier this week, Maccabi Tel Aviv can open a seven point gap at the top of the Premier League standings with a victory over Hapoel Acre at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday night.
An Eran Zahavi penalty in the 29th minute gave Maccabi a 1-0 victory over Hapoel on Monday, cementing the yellow-and-blue’s position in first place with its 10th win in 13 league matches so far this season.
However, Zahavi’s controversial goal celebration in which he fired imaginary shots, with his fingers acting as the guns, towards the Hapoel stand overshadowed yet another solid performance by the defending champion, which kept its first clean sheet in seven matches after not allowing a single goal in its first six games of the campaign.
Maccabi beat Acre 2-0 in their season opener, with the northerners currently in 10th place, eight points from the relegation zone.
Second-placed Hapoel Beersheba doesn’t host Beitar Jerusalem until Monday night, allowing Maccabi to open a significant cushion for at least 48 hours.
Hapoel’s fourth consecutive derby defeat left it 13 points off the top, with the reds also in danger of losing touch with Beersheba.
Hapoel, which has won just one of its past five games, also finds itself four points behind its opponent on Saturday, third-placed Bnei Sakhnin.
Sakhnin’s winning streak was snapped at three matches following Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Beitar Jerusalem and Marco Balbul’s men will be desperate to prove they are deserving of their current position with a victory over Hapoel.
Kobi Refua was named as the co-head coach of Maccabi Petah Tikva with Yitav Luzon on Thursday and the new partnership will be put to its first test in Saturday’s match against Hapoel Ra’anana.
Also Saturday, Ashdod SC hosts the languishing Bnei Yehuda, which is still without a full-time replacement for Dror Kashtan and is five points from safety after losing 10 of its last 12 games.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon visits Hapoel Haifa.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona welcomes Maccabi Haifa on Sunday.
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