Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Tal Ben-Haim (center) is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv kept the pressure on Hapoel Beersheba by moving within three points of first place in the Premier League standings on Saturday, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0.
Beersheba can reestablish a six-point gap when it hosts Beitar Jerusalem on Monday, but Maccabi made sure it reduced the margin for at least 48 hours with a comfortable victory over Petah Tikva, its 12th win from the past 14 matches.
Maccabi took the lead in the 10th minute after Dor Micha’s shot blasted off the crossbar and found the back of the net off the back of Petah Tikva goalkeeper Danny Amos. The hosts doubled their advantage in the 59th minute, with referee Daniel Bar-Natan failing to spot that Tal Ben-Haim controlled the ball with his hand before chipping Amos.
Only one more match took place on Saturday, with the teams in the relegation playoffs on a break until next weekend.
Yuval Avidor’s 48th-minute winner gave Bnei Sakhnin a 1-0 victory at Maccabi Haifa, a crushing blow to Haifa’s hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
Sakhnin closed within three points of third-place Petah Tikva, while Haifa remained seven points back of the place which leads to continental action next season. The team to finish in third place is guaranteed a place in the Europa League qualifiers next season, while fourth position will also be good enough for continental qualification should Maccabi Tel Aviv defeat Bnei Yehuda in the State Cup final next month and finish in the top three as expected.
Beersheba will be confident of regaining a six-point lead at the top when it hosts Beitar Jerusalem on Monday. The reigning champion faces a run of three straight road games following the showdown with Beitar, visiting Sakhnin, Maccabi Haifa and then Maccabi Tel Aviv in what will be their final meeting of the season.
Before it begins its travels, Beersheba will look to improve its almost perfect record at Turner Stadium on Saturday.
Beersheba has won 14 of 15 games at home so far this season, with its overall unbeaten streak at the stadium since its opening at the start of last season up to 32 league games (26 wins and six draws).