Maccabi Tel Aviv continued to build momentum on Saturday night, while Hapoel Haifa returned to winning ways and the summit of the Premier League standings.It was just two weeks ago that Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff had to deal with increasing calls for his head from yellow-and- blue fans after the team had registered its third straight draw to fall seven points behind Premier League leader Hapoel Beersheba.However, the yellow-and-blue moved within a single point of Beersheba with Saturday’s 2-1 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona, registering its third straight victory over all competitions to further build its confidence.A 1-0 victory over Hapoel Beersheba in the Toto Cup final followed by a 2-1 win against Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium last Monday injected new life and optimism into Maccabi’s campaign, and while the team once more struggled to kill off a match on Saturday, there seems to be little doubt that it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the title race.Vidar Orn Kjartansson’s opener in the 19th minute was canceled out by Kiryat Shmona’s Ahmed Abed (44), but Nick Blackman ensured Maccabi picked up the three points it deserved with the winner in the 54th minute. Kiryat Shmona played with 10 men from the 65th minute following Didier Brossou’s sending off.“We seem to like to suffer and make it hard on ourselves but that is something that we shouldn’t accept,” said Cruyff. “For sure it is something we need to improve on but the team has shown a good reaction over the last 4-5 games.” Maccabi is three points back of Hapoel Haifa, which returned to first place for at least 48 hours with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva.Beersheba will go top once more with a victory over Maccabi Haifa on Monday.After leading the standings for much of the first third of the campaign, Haifa had won just one of its previous five matches, but goals by Eden Ben-Basat (35) and Gal Erel (82) gave Nir Klinger’s team all three points on Saturday.Maccabi Netanya is just six points off the summit after combining two straight wins for the first time since the beginning of October.Netanya built on last week’s 1-0 triumph over Beersheba with a 3-0 victory at Hapoel Acre on Saturday. Diya Saba took his league-leading tally to 13 goals with an excellent solo effort in the 32nd minute and Netanya clinched the three points through second-half goals from Eden Shrem (61) and Eran Levy (82).Bnei Yehuda is tied with Netanya on 26 points, continuing its unexpected run by beating Hapoel Ashkelon 3-1 for its fourth straight win and sixth victory from the past seven matches.Mirko Oremus gave Ashkelon the lead on eight minutes, but Maor Kandil leveled the score on the brink of halftime and Yonatan Cohen completed the comeback five minutes into the second half. Matan Hozez wrapped up the win nine minutes from time.On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem can move back within two points of Hapoel Haifa when it visits Ashdod SC. Despite entering the weekend only three points off first place, Beitar coach Benny Ben-Zaken may be soon out of a job, with club boss Eli Ohana reprimanding him for the team’s poor play in a one-on-one conversation, the content of which was quickly leaked.Beitar had won two straight matches before suffering a 2-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv last week.Elsewhere Sunday, Hapoel Ra’anana welcomes Bnei Sakhnin.