By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
Maccabi Tel Aviv got back onto the winning track with a 3-0 win over Bnei Yehuda on the road at Blomfield Stadium in Israel Premier League action this week.The defending champion recorded the dominating win after crashing out of the State Cup earlier in the week against Hapoel Um El Fahem. Coach Vladimir Ivic reinserted Yonatan Cohen into his starting lineup and the move paid immediate dividends as the 23-year old had a hand in all of the goals while Omer Atzili scored a brace.Cohen found Atzili off a corner kick as the midfielder blasted the ball into the upper left hand corner of the goal past a helpless Bnei Yehuda ’keeper Emilias Zoubas for a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.Just six minutes later, Cohen crossed the ball to Eyal Golasa and the latter found the back of the goal from 10 meters out to double the advantage.The yellow-and-blue sealed the deal in the 81st minute when Cohen and Atzili teamed up once again, this time for the third marker as Zoubas made the initial save off of Atzili’s shot, but the ball trickled behind the shot-stopper as Maccabi wrapped up the easy victory. Next up for the first-place club is a date with Hapoel Kfar Saba on Saturday afternoon, while Bnei Yehuda visits Maccabi Netanya on Sunday.“I feel much better today than I did a few ago against Um El Fahem,” said a relieved Ivic. “We played well and created quality chances other than the three goals that we scored. It’s unusual for us to lose and we all felt a responsibility for what had happened. We have to continue on as the past has to remain in the past.”Atzili was also content with the victory.“We knew that a win here would give us a good push after what had happened earlier in the week. I’m happy we were able to put it behind us quickly and that we were able to continue on our way.”In other midweek action, Maccabi Haifa continued to make noise that it is a force to reckoned with as the Greens defeated Hapoel Haifa 3-0 in the Haifa Derby at Sammy Ofer Stadium. After a goalless first half, Marko Balbul’s squad scored in bundles as Nikita Rukavystya netted a pair of goals in the win.Sintayehu Sallalich came on as a second-half substitute and impacted the game in his first minute on the pitch when he sent a magnificent pass to Yuval Ashkenazi, who beat Reds ’keeper Jasmin Buric for a 1-0 lead.In the 53rd minute Neta Lavi got the ball to Rukavytsya who gave Maccabi Haifa a 2-0 advantage and two minutes later the same Rukavytsya completed a perfect give-and-go with Sallalich as he put the ball past Buric for a 3-0 victory.The Greens head to Kiryat Shmona on Saturday while the Reds host Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday.“I told the players at halftime that they weren’t playing well,” explained Balbul. “We weren’t accurate enough in the last third of the field and I had to make a change. We came out and went wild to open the second half and played the best 20 minutes since I’ve been at Maccabi Haifa, where we could have scored five or six goals.”Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba slipped by Hapoel Hadera 1-0 on the road at the Netanya Stadium as Josue scored the lone goal of the contest in the second half to give Barak Bachar’s squad the three points.Beersheba hosts Ashdod SC while Hadera visits Hapoel Ra’anana on Saturday.Elsewhere, Ironi Kiryat Shmona dropped Hapoel Kfar Saba 3-0 at the Moshava Stadium to take the three points.James Adeniyi opened the scoring via a 19th minute while Yoel Abuhatzeira added a second strike early in the second half for a 2-0 lead. Eden Kartzev put the icing on the cake deep into injury time as his goal gave the northerners the comfortable victory.Kiryat Shmona coach Kobi Refuah summed up the game, with a not to his players’ effort.“We played excellent defense and didn’t allow Kfar Saba a single chance to score. I’m very happy with the win, but we have to continue picking up points in order to stay out of the relegation zone.”Beitar Jerusalem easily got by Hapoel Ra’anana 2-0 at Teddy Stadium in the capital city. Freddy Plumain blasted a beautiful strike in the first half to give the hosts a 1-0 while Gadi Kinda doubled the score in the 88th minute from right outside of the box to give Roni Levy’s squad a tidy triumph.“Of course it disturbed us to lose to Ra’anana in the first round,” said Levi. “But more important than the win in this round was to show our quality in the victory. We are improving game to game and we will be even better as the season continues on.”Hapoel Tel Aviv and Ashdod played to a dull goalless draw at Bloomfield Stadium as the two sides split the points.Ness Ziona surprised Maccabi Netanya 1-0 thanks to a 24th-minute goal by Raz Stain as Amir Turgeman’s side took all three points at the Moshava Stadium.