(photo credit: NK Productions )
Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to second position in the Premier League standings in emphatic fashion on Sunday night, thrashing Ashdod SC 4-0 on the road.
After managing only one victory in its previous four matches, Hapoel entered Sunday’s game trailing arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv by one point and a massive 15 points behind league-leader Maccabi Haifa.
However, Eli Gutman’s team was back to its free-flowing best in Ashdod, the sixth time this season it has scored at least four goals.
“We knew we had no other choice but to win,” Gutman said. “I’m pleased with the way we played. We scored four goals and could have scored many more.
“We’re still trailing Haifa by many points, but that should only make us more committed to continuing to play like this.”
Eran Zehvai gave Hapoel the lead in the 11th minute after the hosts failed to clear a Bibras Natcho free kick, and the Reds dominated from there on.
Four minutes later, Itai Shechter sliced through the Ashdod defense and coolly rolled the ball past Dragan Stojkic to double Hapoel’s lead. Shechter scored his second of the match and 15th of the season 10 minutes after the break and Dedi Ben-Dayan wrapped up the scoring eight minutes later.
Also Sunday, Yero Bello saved Hapoel Haifa from a third straight defeat, scoring three minutes into stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw at Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Bello gave Haifa the lead in the 13th minute, but Guy Tzarfati tied the
score with a free kick from the edge of the box 14 minutes later.
hosts surely thought they were on their way to a first win in five
matches when Ibrahim Bassit scored with 10 minutes to go. However,
Bello came to his team’s and coach’s rescue in injury time, possibly
saving Shlomi Dora’s job with his late strike.