(photo credit: Associated Press)
After more than a month, Hapoel Tel Aviv finally returned to winning ways on
Saturday night, defeating Maccabi Netanya 3-1.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel
Aviv climbed to the top of the Premier League standings, at least for 24 hours,
claiming its fourth straight league victory with a 2-1 triumph over Hapoel Petah
Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to Haris Medunjanin’s goal three minutes into
At Netanya, Hapoel once more failed to recapture last
season’s form, but goals from Toto Tamuz (11), substitute Ben Sahar (70) and
Itai Shechter (82) gave the reigning champion a convincing victory, its first in
all competitions since its 5-1 win over Hapoel Ashkelon on August
After picking up just four points from its first four league matches,
and being humbled in its first two Champions League group encounters, including
a 3- 1 home defeat to Olympique Lyon last Wednesday, Hapoel was desperate for
all three points on Saturday.
Netanya made Tel Aviv sweat for the first
70 minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net until it was already three
goals down and Hapoel breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final
“We played well against Lyon, but we paid the price for our
mistakes” coach Eli Gutman said. “In the 4-2 loss against Kiryat Shmona last
week we didn’t show enough fighting spirit, but we battled for the points today
and that got us the victory.”
Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa dropped to its
second straight defeat after beginning the season with three consecutive wins,
losing 2-1 to Hapoel Acre. Arafat Djako (5, 53) scored a brace for Acre, with
Alon Bozoragi scoring a consolation goal for Haifa in the 76th
Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba won for the first time since the
first weekend of the season on Saturday, beating Bnei Sakhnin 1-0 through
Bernardo Vasconcelos’ 78th minute strike.
Ashdod SC rescued a 2-2 draw at
Maccabi Petah Tikva thanks to Nevo Mizrahi’s stoppage time goal, with Tal
Ben-Haim (26, 40) twice giving the hosts the lead and Moshe Ohayon (34)
In Saturday’s only goalless match, Hapoel Ashkelon
and Bnei Yehuda went home with a point each after a 0-0 draw.
Haifa hosts Betar Jerusalem at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday, with Hapoel
Ramat Gan visiting Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday.
In Netanya, Tamuz got
the visitors off to the start they needed with a great finish in the 11th
Four minutes later, Netanya’s Hen Ezra was unlucky not to tie the
score, with his excellent shot from outside the box smashing against the
The hosts had several other opportunities to equalize, with
Maor Asor shooting wide from three meters out in the 58th minute, moments after
Netanya was denied a penalty by the referee.
Reuven Atar’s men paid the
price for their misses after substitute Sahar scored with his first touch of the
night thanks to Gili Vermut’s superb build-up play.
Vermut also provided
the assist for Shechter’s goal eight minutes from the end of the match and Kobi
Dajani’s penalty in the 88th minute was too little, too late for a naïve Netanya
At Bloomfield, Maccabi got off to a slow start, possibly affected
by the fact that the stadium was empty of fans due to a punishment handed down
to the club for its supporters’ unruliness.
Petah Tikva created the
better chances and took a deserved lead in the 70th minute, with Dudu Biton
beating goalkeeper Liran Strauber with a cool finish.
As the match drew
to a close, Tel Aviv had no choice but to send more players forward and coach
Yossi Mizrahi’s risk paid off seven minutes from time.
Yuval Avidor did
all the hard work and laid the ball off for Eliran Atar, who gave ’keeper Snir
Dori no chance with his shot.
Maccabi continued to push forward in search
of the winner and got it three minutes into stoppage time courtesy of
Medunjanin’s great effort from the edge of the area, his eighth goal in all
competitions this season.
“We didn’t play well, but we need to know how
to win these kinds of matches as well,” manager Avi Nimni said.