Hapoel Tel Aviv players celebrating.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Tel Aviv had little trouble returning to winning ways on Saturday, while Beitar Jerusalem failed to build on the momentum from its victory over Maccabi Haifa last week.
After falling to a 3-0 defeat at Ironi Kiryat Shmona last week, Hapoel bounced back with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Hapoel Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium, with the hosts missing numerous opportunities to win by a bigger margin.
Star midfielder Gili Vermut gave the Reds a perfect start to the match, scoring with a powerful effort from 20 minutes out after just six minutes, with Shoval Gozlan doubling Hapoel’s advantage in the 20th minute.
Gozlan could have easily finished the match with a hat-trick had he not been wasteful in front of goal, but Brazilian midfielder Sasha ensured Hapoel got the third goal it deserved with his header in the 59th minute, with Vermut setting up his second goal of the evening.
“I wasn’t feeling well before the match, but the best medicine is a win. I’m already feeling better,” said Tel Aviv coach Asi Domb. “It is fun to coach a team of young players. This is a process and there will be many ups and downs. But we have patience.”
Beitar impressed in a 1-0 win over Maccabi Haifa last week and looked to be on course for a second straight victory for much of Saturday’s encounter at Hapoel Acre. Eli Dasa gave the visitors the lead after stealing the ball on the edge of the box in the eighth minute, but Jerusalem couldn’t hold on.
Hamdi Salihi headed in the equalizer for the hosts in the 80th minute and Beitar was ultimately fortunate to end the match in a 1-1 draw after Acre had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside.
“I’m really annoyed,” said Beitar coach Menahem Koretzki. “We should have played a lot better, especially in the second half. We were tired and perhaps we didn’t prepare properly for this match.”
Kiryat Shmona moved up to first place for at least 48 hours on Saturday thanks to its 2-1 win at Maccabi Netanya.
Omer Tzalisher handed the hosts the lead after five minutes, but Ofir Mizrahi (35) leveled the score 10 minutes from the break and Kassio gave the visitors all three points in the 75th minute, taking his team’s tally to seven points from a possible nine.
Reigning champion Maccabi Tel Aviv, which was the only team to win its first two matches of the campaign, will return to first place with a draw at Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.
Maccabi Petah Tikva claimed its first victory of the season on Saturday, defeating Hapoel Ra’anana 3-2. Goals from Guy Melamed (9), Moshiko Lugasi (56) and Kostadin Hazurov (65) opened a seemingly unassailable cushion. However, Petah Tikva was forced to toil for its win after Anthony Nwakaeme (78) and Mamadou Thiam (83) scored two quick goals for the visitors.
Also Saturday, Ashdod SC and Bnei Sakhnin drew 2-2. Niv Zrihen (18) and Murad Abu Anza (53) opened a twogoal lead for the hosts, but Yiannis Papadopoulos (63) and Mohammad Ghadir (68) gave Sakhnin a share of the spoils.
On Sunday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva at the new Sammy Ofer Stadium. Haifa is hoping to recover from the setback against Beitar at Teddy Stadium last week, while Petah Tikva is still searching for its first point of the season, being the only team to lose its first two matches of the campaign.