Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv reclaimed second place in the Premier League standings Monday night by defeating Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 in the final game of Matchday 22.
Hapoel trails first-place Betar Jerusalem by only four points and has opened a seven-point gap over Maccabi Haifa, which managed only a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Kfar Saba earlier Monday.
Ibazito Ogabuna scored for Hapoel Tel Aviv in the 48th minute of what was on the whole a poor match.
"We didn't play well enough and were affected by playing a match on Thursday against Glasgow Rangers [in the UEFA Cup]," Hapoel coach Nir Levin said. "It was important to win this match, but we're not pleased with our form.
"We've closed the gap to four points, but we will need to play better to close it further."
Kfar Saba took the lead against Haifa in the 50th minute thanks to Liron Zarko's goal. Haifa equalized nine minutes later when Alain Masudi took a chance and beat the 'keeper with his shot.
"We're an average league team, nothing more," Haifa coach Roni Levy admitted. "In the UEFA Cup, we raise our play, but we can't manage to show the same form in the league. I never said we were going to win the championship this season and obviously there is no point in speaking about it at the moment."
Maccabi Petah Tikva 0, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1
Hapoel should have been awarded a penalty in the seventh minute of the match, but the referee failed to spot the handled ball in the Petah Tikva box and deprived the visitors.
Petah Tikva was denied the lead by a goal-line clearance in the 22nd minute when Liran Cohen's shot was turned away by Gili Vermot, who was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
Three minutes into the second half, Tel Aviv got the breakthrough out of nowhere. Yigal Antebi struck an excellent cross that was convincingly headed in by Ogabuna.
Petah Tikva was centimeters away from an equalizer in the 61st minute when Omer Golan's diving header went wide of the goal after hitting the post.
Hapoel was happy to sit on its lead and Maccabi struggled to threaten Elimelech's goal. Rubil Sarsur hit a powerful shot from 20 meters out six minutes from the final whistle, but Elimelech was well placed once more and his side secured all three points.
Hapoel Kfar Saba 1,Maccabi Haifa 1
Haifa struggled to recapture its form from Thursday's match against CSKA Moscow and failed to create scoring opportunities in the first half. Gustavo Boccoli had the best chance of the half in the 43rd minute when his shot was blocked by the Kfar Saba defense.
After an anemic first half, Hapoel pushed forward after the break and was rewarded with a goal almost immediately. Zarko connected well with Shalev Menashe's cross and buried the ball past Haifa 'keeper Nir Davidovitch.
Maccabi equalized when Masudi took a pass from substitute Sholmi Arbeitman and slotted into the goal.
Both clubs failed to create chances in the remainder of the match, settling for a single point that benefits neither team.