Hapoel Tel Aviv moves closer to top-of-table with fourth straight conquest; Netanya stays hot.
By ALLON SINAI
Betar Jerusalem’s dismal start to the season got worse on Saturday night, with Uri Malmilian’s men losing 3-0 at Ashdod SC, their fifth defeat in eight Premier League matches.Betar once more played nowhere near its potential and Malmilian’s much-anticipated return to the club he led as a player seems destined to end far quicker than anyone had dreamed.Saturday’s loss leaves Betar with just a single win this season, and Malmilian knows a mere five points from a possible 24 are well short of what was expected from the team he himself tipped to possibly even challenge for the league title.“We were humiliated,” Malmilian said.“I will meet with chairman Itzik Kornfein and we will have to make some decisions.I believe that I can turn the situation around. We didn’t play well and we could have conceded six or seven goals.”Malmilian dropped captain Aviram Bruchian and Idan Tal from the lineup in Ashdod, but didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for.Jerusalem continued its poor form from the 0-0 draw against Bnei Sakhnin last week and was thrashed by a mediocre Ashdod side.Midfielder Moshe Ohayon got the breakthrough with a free kick in the 63rd minute and the hosts would clinch the three points within seven minutes.In the 68th minute, Betar’s lax defense gave Nir Biton all the time in the world to double the lead, and two minutes later Dimitar Makriev was left unmarked three meters from goal and completed the scoring with an easy header.Meanwhile, Hapoel Tel Aviv moved to within one point of the Premier League summit thanks to a 3-2 win over Hapoel Beersheba at National Stadium in Ramat Gan, its fourth straight victory.After winning just once in their first four league encounters, Eli Gutman’s men have well and truly got their title defense back on track and the coach will be hoping they will benefit from their newly found confidence when they go in search of their first Champions League point against Schalke 04 at Bloomfield Stadium on Tuesday night.Toto Tamuz’s clinical finish in the 27th minute gave Tel Aviv the lead and his great solo effort six minutes after the break all but guaranteed the three points.Eran Zehvai secured the win in the 66th minute and goals by Lior Asulin (71) and Maor Melikson (93) were of little consolation for the visitors.Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s time at the top of the standings could be coming to an end after Ran Ben-Shimon’s team suffered its first defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 3-0 at Hapoel Acre.A win for Maccabi Haifa at Hapoel Petah Tikva on Sunday or for Maccabi Tel Aviv at Hapoel Haifa on Monday will see them leapfrog Kiryat Shmona into first position.Roei Dayan gave the hosts the lead (40) and second half goals by Arafat Djako (79) and Mohammed Kalibat (90) clinched the victory.Maccabi Netanya continued its impressive start to the season on Saturday, thrashing Hapoel Ashkelon 4-0 on the road.Firas Mugrabi gave the visitors the lead after five minutes, with Ahmed Saba netting a first half brace (19, 34) and Dele Yampolsky completing the scoring 10 minutes into the second half.Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva beat Hapoel Ramat Gan 2-0 on the road thanks to goal by Omer Damari (55) and Tal Ben-Haim (58), while Bnei Yehuda defeated Bnei Sakhnin 2-0 on goals from Hasan Abu-Zaid (50) and Shalev Menashe (72).
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