Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Vidar Orn Kjartansson celebrates after scoring a brace in last night’s 2-1 win at Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Premier League action..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
A 94th-minute winner by Vidar Orn Kjartansson kick-started Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Premier League title challenge on Sunday night, securing a 2-1 win at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Maccabi entered the match in fourth place, eight points back of leader Hapoel Beersheba. A failure to win for a fourth straight league game would have seriously hurt its hopes of claiming the championship, but Kjartansson’s late header ensured it moved back up to second place, closing within five points of the summit and releasing a lot of pressure.
Kiryat Shmona took the lead through Ezechiel N’Douassel in the fifth minute, but Maccabi netted a deserved equalizer via Kjartansson seven minutes from the break, Maccabi’s first goal after three barren games.
The match looked to be heading for a draw, but the yellow-and-blue’s pressure finally paid off in the fourth minute of stoppage time, with the Icelandic striker making no mistake from close range.
“This was not our best game but after being down early in the game it is good to come back and win,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze. “It was a very important game as we had some bad results.”
Earlier Sunday, Hapoel Ra’anana defeated Bnei Yehuda 1-0 in Netanya for its second win of the season, climbing up to sixth place in the standings. Dor Hugi scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute. Bnei Yehuda remains in the relegation zone, two points from safety.
On Monday, Beitar Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium in one of the bitterest rivalries Israeli soccer has to offer. Beitar has lost just one match so far this season, but it has yet to register two consecutive wins, something it will be looking to change with a victory on Monday.
“This match is a crossroads for us,” said Beitar coach Ran Ben-Shimon.
“There is a long history between the clubs and we really want to win.”
Hapoel is just two points above the relegation zone, and coach Guy Luzon didn’t sound very optimistic on Sunday.
“The state of our squad is catastrophic,” said Luzon. “The expectations are that we will win every match and become a top team.
But we need to use 7-8 youth players simply to train properly. I don’t have any options and we will have to strengthen the squad. This is a bad period for the club from every aspect.”