OMER DAMARI Hapoel Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Any notion that Ironi Kiryat Shmona was unworthy to win the Premier League title
due to its unconvincing performances was dispelled in emphatic fashion on
Saturday night with a 4-0 victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
Shmona extended its lead at the top to 11 points over second-placed Ashdod SC,
which lost 1-0 to Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium, with Leonardo Passos Alves
scoring the only goal of the match in the 22nd minute to give the yellowand-
black its third straight win.
The embattled Hapoel Tel Aviv remains 12
points back of Kiryat Shmona, but at least it steadied the ship slightly on
Saturday with a remarkable 7-3 victory over Maccabi Netanya, which ended the
match with eight men.
There were those who suggested that the fact that
half of Kiryat Shmona’s previous 14 wins had come by a 1-0 score-line was a
testament to the mediocre soccer being played by Ran Ben-Shimon’s
However, the northerners not only kept their seventh clean sheet in
their past eight matches on Saturday, but they also recorded their biggest win
of the season so far by hitting Ramat Hasharon for four, silencing any remaining
Goalkeeper Danny Amos denied Ramat Hasharon an important opener
with an instinctive save on Alain Masudi in the 23rd minute, and five minutes
later, the hosts took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Of all players, it
was center-back Shir Tzedek who put Kiryat Shmona in the driving seat, sending a
swerving shot into the back of the net from 30 meters out which Ramat Hasharon
’keeper Gal Nir should have saved.
The hosts were cruising by the break
after Shimon Abu-Hazeira made the most of some lax defending to smash in the
second in the 36th minute.
Adi Elisha (65) made it a comprehensive win
with an accurate effort from the edge of the area and Abu-Hazeira’s shot five
minutes later smashed off the post and flew into the back of the net off Nir’s
back to pile the misery on the visitors.
“Kiryat Shmona wasn’t built to
make a run for the championship so every week presents a new challenge for us,”
said Ben-Shimon, whose team won for the 10th time in its last 11 matches,
extending its unbeaten streak to 20 games.
Hapoel Tel Aviv triumphed for
just the second time in eight matches on Saturday, thrashing Netanya 7-3 at
Bloomfield Stadium to give new coach Nitzan Shirazi a memorable first win with
Hapoel fans intensified their protest against owner Eli Tabib
with an impressive display ahead of the match, but the turmoil at the club was
forgotten during two extraordinary hours at Bloomfield.
turned the match on its head after Omer Damari (15) scored the opener for
Hapoel, with some awful defending gifting goals to Ahmed Saba (20) and Firas
The visitors handed Hapoel the boost it needed in the 24th
minute when Lior Reuven was sent off for being the last man on defense and
pulling back Toto Tamuz.
Shay Abutbul scored from the subsequent free
kick and the hosts led 3-2 at the break thanks to Tamuz’s 33rdminute
However, despite playing with one man fewer, Netanya never gave up
and Hen Ezra made the most of Tel Aviv’s slow and disorientated defense to
equalize three minutes into the second half.
But any hope Netanya had of
leaving Bloomfield with a point ended in the 62nd minute when goalkeeper Amir
Edri was shown a red card for a reckless kung-fu kick at Tamuz, who stepped up
to blast in the spot kick and put Tel Aviv back in front.
Just one minute
later, Saba let his frustration get the better of him and was shown a second
yellow card after slapping Gal Shish, allowing Hapoel to pour salt on Netanya’s
wounds with three more goals from Salim Toama (74), Damari (78) and Tamuz (84),
who completed a hat-trick.
Also Saturday, Eyal Lachman resigned as
Maccabi Petah Tikva coach following its 3-1 home defeat to Bnei
Kostadin Hazurov (8), Allah Abu Saleh (57) and Maharan Radi (81)
scored for Sakhnin, with Abu Saleh (68) also netting a consolation own-goal for
Petah Tikva, which is now just two points off the relegation zone.
Beersheba is tied on 22 points with Petah Tikva after claiming a significant 2-0
home victory over Hapoel Haifa on Saturday courtesy of Diya Saba’s (48) strike
and Lior Jan’s (76) own goal.
Hapoel Acre strengthened its position in
the top half of the standings with a 3- 1 win over Hapoel Petah Tikva on
Saturday, with Sintiyahu Salalik (19), Stefan Scepovic (20) and Nebojsa
Marinkovic (73) scoring for the winners and Fabian Stoller (39) netting for
Bnei Yehuda hosts Hapoel Rishon Lezion on Sunday, while
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Haifa on Monday.