Hapoel Haifa midfielder Maxim Plakuschenko celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 win at Maccabi Petah Tikva..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Tel Aviv look to register their first Premier League wins of the season on Sunday night, but it is Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Haifa which are setting the early pace after making it two victories from two matches on Saturday.
After being held to a 1-1 draw by Maccabi Netanya in its league opener last week and then being knocked out by Maribor in the Champions League playoffs, two-time defending champion Beersheba aims to bounce back at Maccabi Haifa. Haifa lost 2-0 to Bnei Yehuda to start the season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv was humbled 3-0 by Betar Jerusalem in its opener last week before eking into the Europa League group stage with a 2-2 draw against Altach of Austria on Thursday.
Sakhnin won two straight matches to start the season for the first time ever on Saturday, beating Hapoel Ra’anana 2-1. Mohamed Aly Camara canceled out Sakhnin’s opener in the 70th minute, but Idan Shemesh gave the hosts all three points nine minutes from time.
Hapoel Haifa is in first place ahead of Sakhnin thanks to its superior goal difference after winning 2-0 at Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Alon Turgeman scored for a second straight match and Maxim Plakuschenko ensured the team won its first two games for the first time in seven years.
Maccabi Netanya also seemed set to extend its perfect start when it had a one-goal and oneman advantage entering stoppage time of its showdown with fellow newly-promoted side Hapoel Acre.
However, Amran El Krenawy snatched a point for the visitors in the 91st minute after Netanya had completed a comeback with two goals in six first-half minutes. Dan Glazer (27) and Diya Saba (33) put Netanya in the driving seat after Amit Bitton (20) had given Acre the lead. Bitton was sent off eight minutes from time, but Acre still managed to claim a draw.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Ashkelon drew 1-1. Tal Ayala gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute, with Almog Buzaglo equalizing for Bnei Yehuda 11 minutes later.
On Monday, Beitar Jerusalem can join Hapoel Haifa and Sakhnin at the top of the standings when it hosts Ashdod SC.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coaching consultant Steve McClaren spoke to the media for the first time on Saturday and said he was delighted to join the yellow-and-blue.
“I surprisingly got a call from [head coach Jordi Cruyff] saying he was looking for an experienced coach to come in and help himself and the staff,” said McClaren. “I’m only here to help Maccabi Tel Aviv win.”ResultsSaturday’s results: Premier League Week 2:
Bnei Sakhnin 2, Hapoel Ra’anana 1; Hapoel Ashkelon 1, Bnei Yehuda 1; Maccabi Petah Tikva 0, Hapoel Haifa 2; Maccabi Netanya 2, Hapoel Acre 2.
Sunday on TV:
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Sport 1 at 8 p.m.); Maccabi Haifa vs Hapoel Beersheba (live on Sport5 at 9 p.m.)