betar jerusalem 88.
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Betar Jerusalem is starting to impress with Luis Fernandez's new signings, who are learning the system and starting to gel.
The yellow-and-black bounced back from last week's setback at Teddy Stadium to produce a spirited team performance against Hapoel Petah Tikva and came away with an impressive away win to close the gap from second place in the Premier League standings.
Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv dropped a precious onegoal advantage at Ashdod and rekindled the second place battle, with Bnei Yehuda prevailing over Maccabi Petah Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium.
Reigning champion Maccabi Haifa takes on unstable Maccabi Tel Aviv Sunday night at Bloomfield, in what is sure to be an emotionally charged affair.
Eyal Berkovic is expected to start for the yellow-and-blue and will play against Maccabi Haifa for the first time in his career. Berkovic grew up in Haifa and never took off his green uniform until his move to England's Southampton in the 1996/97 season.
Hapoel Petah Tikva 0, Betar Jerusalem 3
Betar was the better team in the opening minutes and broke the deadlock in the 21st thanks to brilliant move by Fabrice Fernandez.
The talented Frenchman made a quick run on the left flank, crossed the ball into the area and found Aviram Bruchian, who easily headed in the ball to make it 1-0.
The yellow-and-black continued attacking in the second half and doubled the score. David Aganzo took a free kick from the edge of the box and sent in a curling shot to make it 2-0 in the 51st minute.
Substitute Maor Melikson showed his worth in the 81st minute when he scored the third for Betar with a powerful drive from ten meters.
Ashdod SC 1, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1
Ashdod SC played the game with a defensive frame of mind, but couldn't stop the visitors from taking a lead in the 78th minute.
Elyaniv Barda struck a fierce free kick from 20 meters out that hit the post, but substitute Ibazito Ogabuna pounced on the rebound and scored from close range to give the reds the lead.
Ashdod fought back and found an equalizer just three minutes later with an inspiring team move. Shai Holtzman received the ball on the right flank and found Blesing Kaku, who drilled in the ball from close range.
Bnei Yehuda 1, Maccabi Petah Tikva 0
Only 2,000 fans were in attendance at Bloomfield Stadium as Bnei Yehuda earned all three points and continued its challenge for the second place.
Petah Tikva star forward Omer Golan had to leave the game in the 27th minute after suffering an injury. Bnei Yehuda defender Ernest Etchi was sent off after committing a rough foul on Salim Tuamah.
But Reuven Oved decided the game with a flash of genius in the 74th minute. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv playmaker took control of the ball in midfield, dribbled past his marker and set up Eli Biton, who provided the finish.
Maccabi Netanya 0, Bnei Sakhnin 0
Sakhnin played the game without suspended captain Abas Suan and Salah Hasarma, and the performance was accordingly lackluster.
Reuven Atar's Maccabi Netanya failed to take advantage of Sakhnin's weakness and could not feed striker Papi Kimoto, who was closely marked by the visitor's sweepers.
"The game was very poor as Sakhnin played very defensively," Atar summarized after the final whistle. "If they are happy with their point, so are we."
Upper Nazareth 1, Hapoel Kfar Saba 0
On Friday afternoon, Upper Nazareth managed to edge Eli Ohana's Kfar Saba when new signing Georgi Hristov took full advantage of a mix-up in the greens' defense and rolled in his first goal of the season.