Eran Zahavi’s 100th Premier League goal helped Maccabi Tel Aviv back to the summit of the standings on Saturday night, opening a two-point gap over Hapoel Beersheba which could only manage a goalless deadlock at Bnei Yehuda.
Zahavi netted Maccabi’s opener from the penalty spot in the 3-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Haifa Stadium, the yellow- and-blue’s sixth victory from the past seven games.
After a far from impressive first half, Maccabi took the lead in the 50th minute through Zahavi’s penalty, with Haifa’s Bruno Pinheiro being penalized for blocking the ball with his hands in the box.
Matters got a whole lot more complicated for Haifa seconds later, with Dor Malul being sent off by referee Daniel Bar Natan after running towards him and showering him with obscenities following the penalty.
Nosa Igiebor made it 2-0 in the 68th minute before Avi Rikan completed the scoring nine minutes later, three days before Maccabi returns to Haifa Stadium to host Chelsea in Champions League action.
“We were not aggressive enough in the last third of the pitch in the first half, but in the second half we scored the penalty and then with an extra player we were able to score two more goals,” said Maccabi coach Slavisa Jokanovic. “There is always room to improve. We can be happy with the result and three points but we have a lot of work to do.