Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Reigning champion Maccabi Tel Aviv remained within striking distance of first place Ironi Kiryat Shmona thanks to another dominant performance on Wednesday night, thrashing Ashdod SC 5-2 at Bloomfield Stadium behind two more goals by the unstoppable Eran Zahavi.
The midfielder extended his record run to 11 consecutive games with a goal, taking his overall tally during the streak, which stretches back to last season, to 17 goals.
“I’d love to keep scoring match after match, but that is not the most important thing and I’m not going to try and force anything,” said Zahavi.
Maccabi’s fifth win in six matches this season moved it back up to second place, one point behind Kiryat Shmona.
The yellow-and-blue looks to be hitting top form just in time for next Monday’s derby against Hapoel Tel Aviv, putting three goals past Maccabi Haifa, scoring four against Hapoel Acre and five versus Ashdod over its last three matches.
“This is a great feeling because I think we were able to maintain our level of performance for more minutes than beforehand,” said Maccabi coach Pako Ayestaran. “We were magnificent in the first half and all the players are showing that they have quality.”
Zahavi hardly needs help in his current form, but he got some in the 17th minute, with his weak shot from the edge of the box taking a deflection off Ashdod defender Paty Yeye to leave goalkeeper Ofir Martziano helpless.
Defender Omri Ben-Harush scored for a second straight game 10 minutes later, breaking into the box from the left flank before sending an accurate effort into the bottom right corner.
Nosa Igiebor netted his first league goal for the club in the 34th minute from a Zahavi assist and Tal Ben-Haim made it 4-0 seven minutes into the second half.
Ashdod got two goals back via Israel Rosh (71) and a Yero Bello (77) penalty, but Zahavi would have the final laugh, scoring his eighth goal in six matches this season one minute from time.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Acre claimed its first win of the season, beating Hapoel Ra’anana 2-0 in Netanya thanks to Hamdi Salihi’s brace. The Albanian striker found the back of the net in the 17th and 51st minutes to move Acre off the bottom of the standings. Ra’anana was coming off a 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa, but failed to build on the momentum.
On Thursday, Beitar Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Netanya, with Hapoel Tel Aviv visiting Hapoel Petah Tikva.