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Hapoel Tel Aviv climbed to second place in the Premier League table on Monday night after defeating Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 despite a poor performance.
Tel Aviv took the lead in the fifth minute through a stunning Elyaniv Barda goal and was content on defending and keeping a clean sheet for the remaining 85 minutes.
Kfar Saba had the best of the possession throughout the match, but was unable to translate its control into scoring opportunities.
Hapoel is four points behind table toppers Betar Jerusalem, but the reds have a game in hand that would bring them to within a single point of first place if they win it.
"There are games where the points are more important than anything else," Tel Aviv coach Yitzhak Schum said after the match. "A team needs to know to take the points in its poorer games as well. We have had a difficult week and winning was the only thing that concerned us tonight."
"I can't remember such a one-sided game all season," frustrated Kfar Saba coach Eli Ohana said after the match. "They scored in the first few minutes of the match and after that they only played defense. We had enough chances to score at least two goals."
Kfar Saba had the first chance after four minutes when Jose Duarte squared the ball to Guillermo Israelevitch, who hit a powerful shot that was well saved by goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech.
A minute later Tel Aviv scored what proved to be the match winner. Barda picked up the ball just inside the host's half and ran past two Kfar Saba players before hitting an unstoppable shot just inside the box to give his team the lead. The visitors were happy to sit back after going ahead, but Kfar Saba was unable to threaten its opponents goal. Idan Schum, who was playing against his father, hit a shot towards goal in the 31st minute, but Elimelech was well placed.
Douglas De Silva had Kfar Saba's best chance of the match in the 55th minute when he picked up the ball five meters from goal, but could only find Elimelech's legs with his shot.
Even the sending off of the visitors' defender Javier Paez in the 81st minute didn't help the hosts to get the illusive equalizer and Tel Aviv went home with all three points.
Kashtan announces squad for Israel vs Croatia qualifier
Israel coach Dror Kasthan surprisingly dropped Maccabi Haifa forward Yaniv Katan from his squad for the Euro 2008 home qualifier against Croatia on November 15.
Katan refused to join the national team for its match against Russia a month ago claiming he was injured and Kashtan has now seemingly settled the score by choosing to leave the forward out this time round.
"I wish the national team good luck and I hope it wins," Katan said after hearing of his dropping from the squad. "I hope I will return to the team in the future."
The full squad: Goalkeepers: Dudu Awat (Deportivo La Coruna), Nir Davidovich, Tom Almadon (Maccabi Haifa). Defenders: Tal Ben Haim (Bolton Wanderers), Shimon Gershon, Tomer Ben Yossef, Omri Afek, Roni Gafni, Yoav Ziv (Betar Jerusalem), Klemi Saban (Steaua Bucharest), Dekel Keinan (Maccabi Haifa), Adoram Keisi (Maccabi Haifa), Yuval Spongin (Maccabi Tel Aviv). Midfield: Idan Tal (Bolton Wanderers), Yossi Benayoun (West Ham United), Walid Badier, Salim Toema (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Michael Zandberg, Gal Alberman (Betar Jerusalem). Forwards: Shlomi Arbeitman, Roberto Colautti (Maccabi Haifa), Amit Ben Shushan, Toto Tamuz, Aviram Bruchian (Betar Jerusalem).
Three minutes from the half Kfar Saba was denied by the Hapoel keeper once more after Elimelech cleared Israelevitch's curled shot for a corner.
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