Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Barak Itzhaki (top) celebrates with teammates after scoring the only goal in last night’s 1-0 Premier League win over Ashdod SC..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Despite its stuttering campaign, Maccabi Tel Aviv isn’t giving up on the title race, closing within six points of Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Ashdod SC in Netanya.
Maccabi had won just two of its previous eight Premier League matches, but has got Beersheba in its sights for at least 24 hours, with the reigning champion only hosting Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Beersheba had won nine consecutive league games prior to last week’s 1-0 loss to Hapoel Ra’anana.
Barak Itzhaki scored the only goal of the match in Netanya in the 52nd minute, giving the yellow-and-blue an uninspiring, yet important, victory.
“We don’t always get what we deserve but I think today we started quicker with more direction to the goal and quicker shots. That was a little bit more of the Maccabi I wanted to see,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze. “We didn’t lose the ball and we made some good and right choices. We pressed as quick as we could and this was more of the Maccabi that we saw in the first few months of the season.”
Beitar Jerusalem’s struggles continued on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat at Ironi Kiryat Shmona. Ahmed Abed (25) and Mauricio (49) scored for Kiryat Shmona, which is undefeated in five matches and climbed up to fourth place.
Beitar remained in sixth position, but the pressure on coach Ran Ben-Shimon continues to grow, with the team winning just one of its past six games and four of 15 matches in all this season.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Kfar Saba and Hapoel Ashkelon drew 0-0 while Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Haifa drew 1-1.
Almog Buzaglo gave Bnei Yehuda the lead with a sensational goal from 25 meters out in the 22nd minute, with Shlomi Arbeitman leveling the score eight minutes later.
Only five points separate rock-bottom Ashkelon and Hapoel Haifa in eighth place.
Elsewhere Sunday, Maccabi Petah Tikva welcomes Ra’anana, with Maccabi Haifa hosting Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.