Maccabi TA soccer 248.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A week before the Tel Aviv derby, Hapoel and Maccabi recorded important victories on Saturday, collecting three crucial points each in their battles against relegation.
Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated its former coach Guy Luzon and his new club Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1, while Maccabi Tel Aviv thrashed Bnei Yehuda 4-0.
Second-placed Maccabi Netanya and third-placed Ironi Kiryat Shmona ended their match on Saturday in a disappointing 0-0 deadlock, but nevertheless maintain their positions in the Premier League standings.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Kfar Saba drew 1-1 and Maccabi Herzliya and Ashdod SC also split the points by the same score line.
On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 2,
Maccabi Petah Tikva 1
Guy Luzon's time at Bloomfield as Hapoel coach was a misery and his suffering at the stadium in Jaffa continued on Saturday.
Luzon, who was pushed out of the club in November after 10 matches in charge, was ecstatic after his new club took a 1-0 lead, but two goals by Tel Aviv made sure the Hapoel fans, who showered Luzon with insults throughout the night, had the last laugh.
"I ignored the fans cursing me and I came here to win," Luzon said after the loss. "In the first half we had some good moments and scored. Hapoel got off to a very good start in the second half and managed to equalize from a set-piece."
In the 35th minute Omer Damari broke Tel Aviv's offside trap and coolly slotted the ball past the hosts' keeper Galil Ben-Sha'anan.
Petah Tikva's lead, however, would only last for four minutes, with Bulgarian Dimitar Telkiyski shooting past Ohad Cohen to equalize.
Seven minutes after the interval Bibres Natcho tucked the ball in from the goal line, giving Hapoel a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Bnei Yehuda 0,
Maccabi Tel Aviv 4
Maccabi recorded its biggest win of the season at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday and handed rock-bottom Bnei Yehuda its 12th loss in its last 14 matches.
Maccabi is now six points clear of the relegation zone and is well-positioned ahead on next week's big Tel Aviv derby.
"We didn't play well in the first half, but I'm pleased we woke up after the break," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said. "We still have plenty to correct ahead of the derby and I'm sure we will learn from our mistakes in the first derby of the season."
After a quiet first half Maccabi seized control of the match and took the lead three minutes after the interval. Rudy Haddad crossed in a corner and new signing Joe Bizera headed the visitors into the lead.
Five minutes later Tel Aviv doubled its advantage after another of its new recruits, Alain Masudi, tucked the ball in.
The second goal killed off the match and Maccabi's Yannick Kamanan added two goals in stoppage time to rub salt into Bnei Yehuda's wounds.
"We mustn't give up. Maybe this hammering will shock the players and they'll understand the situation they're in," Bnei Yehuda coach Eli Cohen said.
Maccabi Herzliya 1,
Ashdod SC 1
Ashdod was eight minutes away from recording its first win in 12 matches on Saturday, but an Ivan Vukomanovic equalizer denied the struggling side all three points yet again.
Idan Shriki gave the visitors the lead in the 57th minute, but Ashdod couldn't hold on to its advantage and will spend at least another week in the relegation zone.