Yellow-and-blue climbs into first-place tie with Beersheba

Tel Aviv couldn’t have wished for a better start to Monday’s match.

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January 16, 2018 06:16
2 minute read.
Yellow-and-blue climbs into first-place tie with Beersheba

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Vidar Orn Kjartansson scores the opening goal against Maccabi Haifa. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)

 
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Two goals by Vidar Orn Kjartansson – the first after 13 just seconds – led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Monday night, extending the yellow-and-blue’s winning streak to five matches and moving it tied on points with Hapoel Beershea at the summit of the Premier League standings.

Maccabi entered the Toto Cup final against Beersheba one month ago seven points back of the two-time reigning champion in league play after registering three consecutive draws.

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It has a perfect record since beating Beersheba 1-0 to pick up the first title of the season and has taken advantage of its rival’s recent slip-ups to erase the deficit.

Beersheba is currently only ahead of Tel Aviv by virtue of its slightly superior goal difference. Beitar Jerusalem is in third place, one point back, with Hapoel Haifa two points off first place.

“It was a good performance but it is only the start and we need to continue,” said Tel Aviv coach Jordi Cruyff. “I’m proud of the team. We worked hard and stuck to our game-plan.”

Tel Aviv couldn’t have wished for a better start to Monday’s match.

One day after Eden Ben-Basat scored the second fastest goal in Premier League history, requiring just eight seconds to give Hapoel Haifa the lead in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Hapoel Beersheba, Kjartansson needed only 13 seconds to find the back of the net in Haifa. Jean-Sylvain Babin’s long ball bounced above the head of Haifa defender Allyson, allowing Kjartansson to control the ball before sending an unstoppable shot into the top left corner.



The Iceland striker, who was last season’s top scorer in the Premier League, scored in a fifth consecutive match over all competitions after having failed to find the back of the net in 10 straight games until snapping the two-month drought with the winner against Hapoel Beersheba in the Toto Cup final one month ago.

Kjartansson took his tally in the league for the season to 10 goals nine minutes into the second half, finishing off a clinical break forward. It took the yellow- and-blue less than 10 seconds to surge from end to end, with Dor Micha finding Avi Rikan in space and the midfielder needing only one touch to put through Kjartansson, who took his shot without even stopping the ball.

Nikita Rukavytsya handed Haifa a lifeline out of nowhere in the 66th minute, but that would prove to be no more than a consolation goal, with Cristian Battocchio clinching the victory five minutes from the final whistle.

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