Betar Jerusalem is showing no signs of stopping. The yellow-and-black continued their terrific run by completing a marvelous comeback in Ashdod and coming away with all three points.
The win, which marked the coaching debut of Dutchman was the team's third in a row and fifth in its last six Premier League games.
Lior Asulin was the hero with a second-half hat trick as the capital city side moved within one point of idle Bnei Yehuda for second place.
Also Saturday, Nir Levin made a successful debut with Hapoel Petah Tikva, outplaying archrivals Maccabi in a hot and emotional Petah Tikwa derby; Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Netanya 1-0 and Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Upper Nazareth finished 1-1.
Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Kfar Saba played to a goalless draw on Friday.
Bnei Yehuda hosts reigning champs Maccabi Haifa on Monday evening in the last fixture of Matchday 9.
Alon Harazi is doubtful for the game and he may have to wait another week before he makes his 400th appearance for the greens. Klemi Saban is the leading candidate to replace Harazi, if he fails to recover.
Ashdod SC 2,
Betar Jerusalem 3
Ashdod scored twice in the span of five minutes to establish a convincing 2-0 lead at the end of the first half. David Revivo (37) fired in the first from long range and veteran Shai Holtzman (42) converted after a mix-up in the Betar defense.
Betar didn't give up and got off the mark in the 47th minute. Asulin broke Ashdod's offside trap and provided a clinical finish.
The Betar hitman added his second 11 minutes later when he found himself unmarked in the box and sent in a low drive to the far post.
But Asulin had not said the last word yet.
In the 89th minute he went down in the box and was awarded a penalty. Asulin stepped up and completed his hat trick with a perfectly taken spot kick to give Betar the dramatic win.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1,
Maccabi Netanya 0
Avi Nimni tapped in the lone goal in the 31st minute as coach Nir Klinger's side bounced back from back-to-back league defeats.
Tel Aviv's game plan was ruined in the second minute when sweeper Cristian Gonzales was sent off after a foul on Papi Kimoto. The yellow-and-blue switched to men-behind-ball tactics and stopped coming ahead.
In the 31st minute, Netanya's goalkeeper was sent off after fouling Eugen Trica in the box. Nimni effortlessly scored what proved to be the winner.
Klinger left Eyal Berkovic out of the squad due to a calf injury.
Hapoel Petah Tikva 2,
Maccabi Petah Tikva 1
The first Petah Tikva derby of the season exceeded all expectations, and was one of the best in recent memory. The game was intense, physical and provided lots of drama.
Levin's players were better in the opening stages and took advantage in the seventh minute. Erez Eliav skillfully dribbled past the Maccabi defenders and was brought down by goalkeeper Ohad Cohen in the box.
Manor Hasan made no mistake with the penalty and send Cohen the wrong way, giving the hosts the early advantage.
Hapoel won a corner in the 26th minute, which proved to be costly for the "Luzons." Hasan took the kick perfectly and Yossi Shivhon, who was lurking unmarked in the penalty area, glanced in the ball elegantly to make it 2-0.
Maccabi opened the second half with some blistering attacks and managed to pull one back. Kobi Ganon made a superb run on the left flank and crossed the ball to Omer Golan, who let it fly and scored in the 54th minute.
But the blues held on to their lead to earn three valuable points and win the derby after a three-year wait.
Hapoel Upper Nazareth 1, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1
Hapoel Tel Aviv and to-be national coach Dror Kashtan decided to open without Baruch Dego and striker Ibazito Ogabuna, despite their good form last week.
Nazareth opened the game with a defensive approach, settling for occasional counter attacks. Its patience paid off in the 34th minute. Forward Miroslav Kregolan was fouled 10 meters from goal by Tel Aviv defender Bio Adafemi, who was caught holding his shirt.
Shahar Siman-Tov stepped up and sent the ball into the back of the net to give the hosts a surprising 1-0 lead.
The equalizer came in the 62nd minute when young Omer Peretz was fouled in the box and a penalty was awarded to the visitors. Nazareth keeper Oshri Levi guessed right and got his fingers to Shimon Gershon's spot kick, but he couldn't prevent the ball from rolling in.
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