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(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa maintained its 100 percent record on Saturday by beating Maccabi Netanya 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer thanks to a brace by the unstoppable Shlomi Arbeitman.
Also Saturday, in a match riddled with diabolical decisions by the officials, Betar beat Hapoel Haifa 3-1, while Bnei Yehuda was held to a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Acre after a late Liroy Zhairi goal for the visitors equalized Itzik Cohen's opener.
Elsewhere, Mor Golan gave Hapoel Ramat Gan a 1-0 win at home to Sakhnin, while Maccabi Petah Tikva beat Ahi Nazareth by the same score, courtesy of Rubil Sarsour.
In other action, Hapoel Ra'anana recorded its first win of the season, beating Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-1 to move off the bottom of the table, thanks to goals from Itai Tuef and Steven Cohen.
Maccabi Haifa 2, Maccabi Netanya 0
It's difficult to see where Maccabi Haifa is going to slip up in the league this season, and after seeing off Maccabi Netanya with another solid performance, the Greens will be quietly confident of finally getting their first Champions League points in Tuesday's home match against Juventus.
The reigning champion started well, as Eyal Meshumar's shot from John Culma's pass was deflected over the bar by Klemi Saban, before Vladimir Dvalishvili failed to get proper contact on Yaniv Katan's center, allowing Netanya's Ivorian 'keeper Aristide Zogbo to easily gather the ball.
The closest chance in the first period came when Mohammad Ghadir's header from Meshumar's center was scrambled off the line by Almog Cohen.
At the start of the second half, efforts from Arbeitman and Netanya's Ravid Gazal sailed just over, before Zogbo made a fantastic save with his feet to keep Arbeitman's volley at bay.
Midway through the second period, after Dvalishvili had squandered a great chance by losing his footing in front of goal, Biram Kiyal whipped in a cross to Arbeitman, who rose majestically to head it into the top corner.
The hosts wrapped up the points in the last minute, with Peter Masilela setting up Arbeitman to knock in his eighth league goal of the season.
Betar Jerusalem 3, Hapoel Haifa 1
Hapoel Haifa coach Shlomi Dora hit the nail on the head when he said that the one who decided Saturday night's match at Teddy "wasn't playing for either side."
The refereeing really did appear to hit a new low, as three out of the four goals should never have been allowed, and it ruined what would have otherwise been remembered as a thoroughly entertaining match.
In the opening minutes, a brilliant Betar move ended with Barak Itzhaki heading the ball down to Idan Vered, whose half-volley was tipped onto the underside of the bar by Haifa 'keeper Galil Ben-Shaanan.
Haifa then came close to breaking the deadlock when Eden Ben-Basat latched onto Yero Bello's back-heel, but Betar stopper Ariel Harush was out like a flash to deny him.
Moments later, the visitors did take the lead. Eran Levy's corner struck the post and came back out the Hapoel Haifa forward without anyone else getting a touch.
However, the officials inexplicably allowed Levy to get another cross in, and Savity Lipenia poked the ball through Harush's legs on the second attempt.
Haifa was forced to play most of the second-half with 10 men after Hai Ben-Lulu picked up a second booking just past the hour, being judged to have kicked the ball away when referee Moshe Buhbut had awarded a free-kick against him. However, the ball appeared to have merely got caught under Ben-Lulu's feet.
As if to add salt to Haifa's wound, Buhbut then awarded Betar a highly dubious penalty when Idan Tal went down under a challenge from Ben-Basat. The contact seemed minimal but the referee appeared to fall for Tal's theatrics, and Barak Itzhaki blasted the spot-kick into the top corner.
Then came the biggest moment of madness. A Tal cross came out to Junior Viza, whose shot from the edge of the box was flicked into the net by Toto Tamuz, standing in front of Ben-Shaanan in a clearly offside position. Nevertheless, quite remarkably, the linesman failed to raise his flag and the goal was given.
Ten minutes from time, Betar was awarded another spot-kick - this time a legitimate one - when Lipenia slammed down Itzhaki's shot with his hands. The Betar striker dispatched his second penalty of the game, putting it in the same place as the first.