Ashdod, Mac TA continue winning ways

Ashdod overcomes Kiryat Shmona 2-0 while Maccabi keeps pace with win over Acre.

Bryan Gerzicich (tackling) 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Bryan Gerzicich (tackling) 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Ashdod SC and Maccabi Tel Aviv maintained the status quo at the top of the Premier League standings on Saturday, each claiming 2-0 victories for their sixth wins in seven matches this season.
Ashdod left it late against Ironi Kiryat Shmona, with Dimitar Makriev (80) and Sandi Arcon (91) finding the back of the net for Yossi Mizrahi’s team.
Maccabi Tel Aviv overcame the trauma of recent seasons to defeat Hapoel Acre on the road courtesy of an own goal by Imoro Lukman (6) and Eliran Atar’s (44) seventh goal of the season.
Maccabi conceded three goals and lost at Acre in each of the past two seasons, but its win was never in doubt after it took an early lead on Saturday.
“I remember the results the team recorded here in the last two seasons so I’m very happy,” said Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia. “I always want to improve and hope that we get better every day.”
Ashdod took 80 minutes to net the breakthrough against the reigning champion, with Murad Abu Anza’s shot being blocked by Itzik Cohen’s hand and Makriev stepping up to slot in the penalty.
The hosts clinched the three points in stoppage time, with Slovenian Arcon scoring on his debut.
“The name of the game in soccer is to make the most of your opportunities,” said Ashdod coach Yossi Mizrahi. “We should have led 3-0 at halftime, but we pushed forward in the final 15 minutes and finally exploited our chances.”
Mizrahi was especially pleased with his team’s reaction to its first defeat of the season at Maccabi Tel Aviv two weeks ago.
“We showed a lot of character,” he added. “We will have more losses down the road, but you must not allow matters to spiral out of control.
This victory shows real maturity.”
Bnei Sakhnin climbed off the bottom of the standings with its first win of the season on Saturday.
Sakhnin beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 3-1 on the road, with Hamad Ganayem (26), Allah Abu Saleh (42) and Aleksandar Davidov (78) scoring for the visitors, nullifying Moshe Abutbul’s (35) initial equalizer.
“This win releases a lot of pressure,” said Sakhnin captain Khaled Khalaila. “We have been playing well for a while and we deserve this win.”
Unlike Sakhnin, Hapoel Haifa is still searching for a first win of the season, with Nir Klinger’s men only managing a 0-0 draw against Hapoel Beersheba at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Haifa is only kept off the bottom of the standings by Betar Jerusalem, but Klinger’s team has got just three points from seven matches, while Betar, which has two points, will only be playing its sixth game of the season when it visits Bnei Yehuda on Sunday night.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Gan and Maccabi Netanya drew 1-1 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Amit Shomovich gave Netanya the lead on 52 minutes, but David Manga equalized six minutes later.
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday.
(Roni Steinbach contributed to this report)