A second-half Toto Tamuz hat-trick led Hapoel Tel Aviv to a 4-1 victory over Hapoel Beersheba on Monday night, lifting the Reds to the top of the Premier League standings above Maccabi Tel Aviv.

A timid first half at Netanya, where Tel Aviv was hosting the match as the pitch at Bloomfield Stadium is currently being resurfaced, ended in a 0- 0 deadlock.

However, the match burst into life when Tal Ben-Haim gave the Reds the lead in the 53rd minute before Tamuz scored three times in the next 20 minutes to take Hapoel above the yellow- and-blue on goal difference.

“We had our concerns ahead of the match, but we knew we were in good form and we were composed,” said man-of-the-match Tamuz. “We didn’t want to let Maccabi run away with the league and we are delighted with this win.”

Meanwhile, Arik Benado’s tenure at Maccabi Haifa got off to a dream start on Monday, with the Greens beating Betar Jerusalem 2-1 at Teddy Stadium for what was just their second victory of the season.

Benado was named as Reuven Atar’s full-time replacement on Sunday and his squad reacted with a tenacious performance in Jerusalem.

Haifa got the start it was looking for when Haim Megrelashvili gifted the visitors the opener in the 13th minute, turning Yaniv Katan’s cross into his own net.

Jerusalem got back on level terms in the 37th minute and owed its equalizer to Haifa goalkeeper Bojan Saranov.

The Serbian haplessly left his goalline and Betar’s Kobi Moyal punished him with a headed goal.

However, Haifa would soon regain its advantage, with Hen Ezra firing into the back of the net from the edge of the area two minutes from halftime.

Betar couldn’t find another goal in the second half and just as importantly could face a harsh punishment from the Israel Football Association after a lighter thrown from the Jerusalem stands hit linesman Amihai Moses in first-half stoppage time and delayed the match for several minutes.

In Netanya, it was Beersheba which got the second half off to the better start, with Duvev Gabai and Aviram Bruchian wasting two golden opportunities in the first five minutes.

Predictably, the visitors were made to pay for it, with Ben-Haim expertly curling the ball into the bottom right corner eight minutes into the second half.

Tamuz doubled Tel Aviv’s advantage less than two minutes later, with his shot from 20 meters out taking a deflection and wrong footing ’keeper Austin Ejide.

Beersheba got back into the match just four minutes afterwards thanks to a Tomer Swisa goal, but Tamuz ensured Tel Aviv would leave with all three points.

The striker made the most of the linesman’s failure to spot he was in an offside position in the 65th minute and scored his second of the night before completing his hat-trick with a superb long-distance effort nine minutes later.

“We were a lot more aggressive in the second half,” said Hapoel coach Yossi Abuksis. “We didn’t allow Beersheba to move the ball and Tamuz was hitting his shots well. We still have work to do, but we are very pleased with the result. It is always nice to be in first place, but there’s still a long way to go.”

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