Maccabi Tel Aviv blasted Hapoel Hadera 3-0 at the Netanya Stadium to keep its four-point lead over second-place Maccabi Haifa in the Israeli Premier League standings after 19 games.Central defender Eitan Tibi who is having a dream season scored a late-game brace, marking the first time ever a yellow-and-blue defender had scored a pair of goals via headers in a league contest.Vladimir Ivic’s squad took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute when Chico Ofoedu nodded home the first goal off a Eyal Golasa cross into the box. Tibi headed in his first tally of the game in the 87th minute thanks to a corner kick by Omer Atzili and then repeated the feat three minutes later under the same circumstances.“I’m a central defender and I don’t frequently score, but I’m thrilled that I was able to score and help our team to the win,” said an excited Tibi said following the game. “I had a tough time last season but things happen for a reason. I think that hard work is the best way for me to show what I can do.”Ivic also summed up the game and his team’s effort.“This was a difficult match and Hadera is a good team that is fifth in the standings. They don’t give up many goals and they know how to both defend and attack very well, but we prepared accordingly to secure the victory.”Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa thumped Ness Ziona 4-0 at Sammy Ofer Stadium with all four goals coming in the second half after the visitors were reduced to 10 men due to Shai Elias’s red card.Trent Sainsbury opened the scoring when he tapped in the first goal past a helpless Omri Glazer in the 51st minute. Nikita Rukavytsya scored his league-leading 13th strike 20 minutes later when he took advantage of a poor clearance pass by Glazer, while substitute Yarden Shua found the back of the net in the 82nd minute thanks to a Dolev Haziza assist.Ofri Arad put the cherry on top of the victory in the 90th minute when Haziza delivered another beauty of a ball that the defender slotted home to wrap up the 4-0 win.“This was a tough game as Ness Ziona played with 9-10 players behind the ball,” explained Haifa coach Marko Balbul. “It made it difficult to create and find open space, but we were able to do so in the second half.”Also, Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Ra’anana 3-1 to move into the championship playoff picture as Stefan Spirovski scored a brace to lead the Reds to the victory. The North Macedonian beat Ra’anana ’keeper Asaf Tzur in the 29th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. But Yoav Tomer drew his side even right before the break as he stole the ball from Raz Shlomo and put it behind Reds goalie Arik Yanko.However, Omri Altman put home a rebound in the 65th minute to give Nir Klinger’s squad a 2-1 advantage and Spirovski scored a header 15 minutes later to give Tel Aviv the tidy triumph.“Ra’anana is a good team, but we deserved to win,” said Klinger following the victory. “We are continuing to show our character on the pitch and have done so the past couple of months. It will be very important for us to continue to do so going forward.”Spirovski also commented on the win and his two-goal performance.“I’m happy that we won and that I scored a couple of goals, but we have to continue to play this way, step by step.”In the capital city, Beitar Jerusalem handily defeated Maccabi Netanya 3-1 as speedy winger Levi Garcia scored a pair of goals to help the Roni Levy’s squad to the three points.In a game played in driving rain, Garcia opened the scoring in the 40th minute, but the visitors drew even just a minute later via a Fatos Beciraj header as the sides went into the break knotted up at 1-1.However, Garcia found the back of Dani Amos’s goal once again in the 68th minute to take the lead for good while Dan Einbinder added an insurance marker five minutes later to give Beitar the comfortable win.“We didn’t start the game well,” said Levy. “But as time went on we improved our play and had a superb second half. We were missing a number of our regular players, but the younger ones stepped up which gives us hope for the future.”Hapoel Beersheba slipped by Hapoel Haifa 1-0 at Turner Stadium in the southern capital. Second-half substitute Ramzi Safuri beat Haifa ’keeper Jasmin Buric in the 73rd minute to give Yossi Abuksis his first win as the Beersheba coach.Dor Jan scored a beautiful volley goal to give Bnei Yehuda the win and three points over Hapoel Kfar Saba.Ashdod SC defeated Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 at the port city as Nir Bardea scored the lone goal of the contest off a header thanks to a Shlomi Azulay assist.The Israel State Cup quarterfinal matchups were also set, with an enticing clash to take place between Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Haifa. Other games include Hapoel Tel Aviv hosting Hapoel Ra’anana, Beitar Jerusalem welcoming Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Yehuda visiting Hapoel Haifa.