HAPOEL TEL AVIV striker Toto Tamuz 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv kept alive its hopes of overhauling Maccabi Haifa and entering
the Premier League championship playoffs in first place on Monday night,
defeating Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Tel Aviv still
trails Haifa by four points with two more matches to be played ahead of the
start of the playoffs and the halving of point totals Barring a Maccabi
collapse, the Reds look set to visit last season’s runner-up in what will likely
be the championship decider on April 30.
After needing a late comeback to
draw 3-3 at Ashdod SC in its last league match, Tel Aviv was once more far from
its best on Monday, winning thanks to two penalties.
Toto Tamuz netted
his 17th league goal of the season to move top of the scorers list in the sixth
minute after Gili Vermut was toppled over in the box by Israel Zaguri, with Ben
Sahar clinching the win from the penalty spot with his 14th league goal in the
“We needed these points,” Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman said.
“We have lost enough points in matches we should have won this season and the
only thing we cared about today was taking the points. A championship you take
with beautiful soccer and with character.”
Petah Tikva remains in 13th
place in the standings, but Naim is confident his team will avoid
“We are missing an attacking player and that makes all the
difference,” Naim said. “My goal is to make sure Petah Tikva stays in the league
and if the management doesn’t want me to continue next season than I will have
to move on.”
Hapoel got off to an ideal start after Tamuz smashed in the
opener with the match less than six minutes old, but the reigning-champion
struggled to develop its usual free-flowing play without the injured Eran
Zahavi, who sat in the stands with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and Dedi
Ben-Dayan, who missed yet another encounter.
Petah Tikva had its moments
and didn’t allow Tel Aviv to dominate the possession, but Yuval Naim’s men
lacked cutting edge and rarely threatened goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan.
hope Petah Tikva may have had of leaving Bloomfield with something ended in the
58th minute after Elroei Cohen was brought down in the box by I’iad Houtaba and
Sahar secured the win with a clinical spot kick.
“This was not an easy
match,” Tamuz said. “Petah Tikva are in excellent form and we are happy we
managed to win.”
In other Israeli soccer news Monday, Slobodan Drapic
resigned as coach of Bnei Sakhnin after the team dropped to 15th place on Sunday
following a 4-1 defeat to Hapoel Haifa.
Sakhin is winless in its last six
matches, winning just once in its last nine contests.
Drapic, who joined
Sakhnin at the end of September, is expected to be replaced by former Hapoel
Haifa and Hapoel Ramat Gan coach Shlomi Dora, who will become the club’s fourth
coach of the season.