mac haifa 88.
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv has solidified its challenge for second place with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva in Matchday 16.
Elyaniv Barda scored twice to lead Dror Kashtan's side, which took a three-point lead over idle Betar Jerusalem. Betar returns to action Sunday night when it travels to Bnei Sakhnin's Doha Stadium in what is expected to be a hot match between the rival clubs.
Jerome Leroy is scheduled to make his debut for Betar and will face the hard task of marking Sakhnin captain Abbas Suan in midfield. Lior Asulin will start on the bench, with Barak Yitzhaki continuing to start up front with Jeff Tituana for Betar.
In Saturday's other results, Tom Caanen secured his first win as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach with a dramatic 2-1 win over Blesing Kaku and Ashdod SC at Bloomfield Stadium, Maccabi Haifa managed to edge last placed Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0 while Alain Masudi's lone goal gave Maccabi Netanya a 1-0 win over Upper Nazareth.
On Friday, Bnei Yehuda defeated Hapoel Petah Tikvah 2-1.
In Petah Tikva, Kashtan's reds put all the hoopla regarding the team's sale to Lev Leviev on the side as they handed Guy Luzon and co. their fourth straight defeat.
The hosts took an early lead when ex-Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Salim Tuama sent a corner into the box that Lukembo Lokaso headed in after just nine minutes.
Ilya Yevorian leveled the score in the 31st minute after a blunder by the Petah Tikvah defense, which left the seasoned striker with the easy job of tapping the ball in from close range.
Maccabi struck again in the 44th minute with a deadly counter attack.
Tuama found Omer Golan, who slipped past the red defense and sent the ball into the far corner.
Tel Aviv created sporadic chances of its own and drew level yet again in the 70th minute. Barukh Dego set up substitute Elyaniv Barda in the box, who made no mistake and scored his third goal of the season to tie the score.
But Barda's role in the game was far from over.
The forward was in position to receive the ball in the penalty area as he sliced through the Petah Tikva rearguard and scored the winner.
"Our first half was very weak, but we showed lots of character in the second half and I think we deserved the win for the effort", a relieved Kashtan told reporters after the game.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 2, Ashdod SC 1
Yossi Ofir stunned the majority of the 8,000 fans at Bloomfield with a brilliant solo effort in the 13th minute. Ofir elegantly took control of the ball in the box, created space for himself and capped the move with an elegant finish.
But the yellow-and-blue kept pressing ahead and the hard work paid off in the 41st minute.
Eyal Berkovic received the ball at the edge of the box and set up young Moshe Mishaelof, who let fly from 20 meters and netted the equalizer.
Ashdod was the better side in the second half, but Maccabi punished the visitors in the 89th minute. Substitute Erez Mesika received the ball on the left flank and found striker Jose Duarte in the penalty area. The Brazilian was in position and headed in the winner.
"Playing attacking is the best way to play," Maccabi coach Ton Caanen said after the game. "We created more chances compared to last week's game and that's a step in the right direction."
Maccabi Haifa 1, Hapoel Kfar Saba 0
The greens attack is not the same without Yaniv Katan. In its first game without the dynamic forward, the team had a hard time in creating chances, but managed to find the winner in the 50th minute.
Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Boccoli made a solo run in midfield and sent in a low drive that was deflected by Mohamed Skhebri into his own goal, leaving goalkeeper Avi Ivgy helpless.
Maccabi Netanya 1, Hapoel Upper Nazareth 0
Netanya striker Papy Kimoto was close to giving his side the early lead in the seventh minute when his header hit the crossbar and went out of play.
But the hosts finally broke the dead lock in the 63rd minute. Ibrahim Abdul Razek crossed the ball towards Alain Masudi, who made no mistake and sent in the ball with a crisply struck half volley.
Bnei Yehuda 2, Hapoel Petah Tikvah 1
Eli Biton scored the first in the 27th minute off an Asi Baldut cross. The oranges doubled their lead in the second half when Kfir Udi found Mate Baturina, who made no mistake and provided a strong finish to make it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.
Substitute Toto Tamuz scored for the visitors in the 89th minute, after taking advantage of a mix up in the Bnei Yehuda defense.