MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Eliran Atar celebrates after scoring his team’s opener in last night’s 2-0 victory at Hapoel Acre in Premier League action.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Despite going down to 10-men in the 58th minute, Maccabi Tel Aviv scored twice in four minutes to defeat Hapoel Acre 2-0 on the road on Sunday night to move four points clear at the top of the Premier League standings with an eighth win from its past nine matches.
Maccabi built on last week’s 1-0 victory over Hapoel Beersheba, which moved it above the twotime defending champion, and has picked up 25 of a possible 27 points from its last nine matches, extending its unbeaten run to 14 games.
Beersheba can move back within a single point of Maccabi when it hosts Ashdod SC on Monday.
Tel Aviv struggled for large periods against rock-bottom Acre. Maccabi was awarded a penalty in the 55th minute, only for referee Ziv Adler to backtrack on his original decision after further consultation with the linesman. The yellow-and-blue was left with 10-men three minutes later, with Barak Itzhaki receiving a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Ben Reichert. But Maccabi would lift its play with 10 men and took the lead through Eliran Atar in the 76th minute after the substitute turned in the rebound from Nick Blackman’s shot. Blackman secured the three points four minutes later, converting a penalty after he was brought down in the box.
“The performance in the first half was weak,” said Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff. “In the second half when everything looked difficult suddenly the character came out. We fought especially with 10 men. Today was a warning that when we are not in the right mode we will lose points against any team.”
Acre remained in last place, five points from safety.
Earlier Sunday, an 89th-minute equalizer by Jordan Faucher snapped Bnei Sakhnin’s losing streak at four matches and gave it a precious point with a 1-1 draw against Maccabi Netanya.
Diya Saba gave Netanya a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute with his league-leading 17th goal of the season. But Saba’s match ended seven minutes into the second half when he was sent off with a second yellow card and Netanya couldn’t hold on without him.