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Maccabi Tel Aviv continued to climb up the Premier League standings on Saturday, claiming a 2-1 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium. After going winless over the first seven matches of the season, Tel Aviv has now won three of its last six league games and has moved up to eighth position in the table.
Maccabi Haifa won for the fourth time in its last five matches on Saturday, defeating Ashdod SC 3-0. After a horrendous start to the season, Haifa is now just one point shy of second placed Maccabi Netanya, which drew 0-0 with Maccabi Herzliya.
New Bnei Yehuda coach Eli Cohen lost his first game in charge of the team on Saturday. Bnei Yehuda fell to a 2-0 home defeat against Hapoel Kfar Saba, its eighth consecutive loss.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Sakhnin finished their match in a 0-0 deadlock.
On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem, which hasn't conceded a league goal in 615 minutes, hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 2, Maccabi Petah Tikva 1
Tel Aviv put some distance between itself and the relegation zone, with its third win of the season. A fantastic piece of skill from Yossi Shivon in the 26th minute gave the hosts the lead. The midfielder picked up the ball 30 meters out and blasted an unstoppable shot beyond keeper Ohad Cohen.
The lead, however, would only last for 10 minutes after an excellent Petah Tikva team move. Omer Golan headed the ball into the path of Ohad Kadusi, who delicately chipped the ball past 'keeper Dragoslav Jevric.
However Tel Aviv would not be denied, and regained the lead in the 56th minute. Rudy Haddad crossed the ball for Shivhon, who headed in his second goal of the match.
"This is our biggest win of the season," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said. "The players deserved the victory. We were in last position, but our players proved that they have character and that Maccabi can play well."
Maccabi Haifa 3, Ashdod SC 0
Haifa was far from its best on Saturday, but nevertheless cruised to the home win. In the 11th minute Brazilian Gustavo Boccoli found countryman Renato, who hit a delightful chip over Ashdod keeper Sammy Adjei. Ashdod, which hasn't won in six games, couldn't get the better of Maccabi keeper Nir Davidovitch and was down to 10 men in the 60th minute after Adir Tubul picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Yaniv Katan.
The hosts didn't take advantage of their one man advantage until the 88th minute when Ashdod defender Vedran Jese bundled the ball into his own net, failing to clear a Katan cross. In the first minute of stoppage time Peter Masilela scored his side's third goal of the match with an excellent solo effort.
Bnei Yehuda 0, Hapoel Kfar Saba 2
Bnei Yehuda may have a new coach, but it continues to record the same old results. Despite creating more chances than its opponent, the southern Tel Aviv club fell to yet another defeat after conceding two late goals.
Liron Zarko scored Kfar Saba's first goal in the 78th minute and less than two minutes later Samuel Yeboah slotted home his eighth goal of the season to secure the visitors second straight win.
"We didn't play too badly. We created scoring opportunities, but couldn't convert them," Cohen said after his first match in charge at Bnei Yehuda. "Kfar Saba reached two chances and scored from both of them. We will have to strengthen the team with a few players that will improve the squad and inject some confidence into the side."
Maccabi Netanya 0, Maccabi Herzliya 0
Maccabi Netanya failed to breakdown the visitor's defense and will be kicking itself after not winning at home once again. The hosts, which haven't won at home in three matches, could have moved to within four points of Betar with a win, but are now just one point ahead of sixth placed Bnei Sakhnin.
"We played very well in the first 20 minutes, but their goalkeeper denied us the lead," Netanya coach Reuven Atar said.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona 0, Bnei Sakhnin 0
The two promoted sides played one of their worst matches of the season in which the only fair result was a goalless draw. "This was a poor match," Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben Shimon admitted. "It was a defensive and tactical encounter and that took the sting out of both teams."
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