Hap TA tied atop standings with Maccabi

Hapoel Tel Aviv tied on points with Premier League leader Maccabi on Saturday night with another victory.

Oscar Garcia 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Oscar Garcia 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv moved tied on points with Premier League leader Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday night, building on last week’s derby win with another victory, this time 1-0 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona while the yellow-and-blue dropped to a second straight defeat.
Maccabi held what seemed like a comfortable six-point cushion at the top of the standings ahead of the derby, but it fell to a 1-0 defeat to its arch-rival despite dominating the possession and failed to score once more on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium.
Almost 7,000 fans attended the match despite a rocket siren sounding in the area just 45 minutes prior to kickoff.
Maccabi’s sporting director Jordi Cruyff attacked the Israel Football Association’s decision to hold the match, saying that there’s no point in playing in such a situation.
However, IFA chairman Avi Luzon, who attended the game at Bloomfield, rebuffed Cruyff’s claims.
“Cruyff will not run Israeli soccer, not him or any other foreigner,” Luzon said.
“I checked with the police and they said to continue with regular life and I’m happy that was their decision.
“Had we not played in Tel Aviv, European teams would have refused to come and play in Israel and that was one of my considerations.”
Maccabi had numerous chances to equalize after Bnei Yehuda took a 13thminute lead through Nenad Marinkovic, but it couldn’t find the back of the net without suspended top scorer Eliran Atar and fell to its third loss of the season.
“It’s very difficult because we didn’t practice for the last two days,” said Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia. “But we must play if the federation decided that we have to play. We had many chances but we weren’t accurate. They had one chance and they scored.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv took less than three minutes to move into the lead at Kiryat Shmona courtesy of Toto Tamuz’s goal and the Reds held on for another far from impressive victory.
“The only thing that I’ll take from this match is the three points,” said Abuksis.
“This is a very important win against a very strong team.”
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon claimed a 2-1 win at Maccabi Netanya.
Ran Itzhak (25) and Adrian Fernandez (26) scored for Ramat Hasharon, with Ahmed Saba netting Netanya’s consolation goal from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
The matches between Hapoel Beersheba and Hapoel Ramat Gan, and Ashdod SC and Hapoel Acre were postponed on Thursday.
On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Haifa, while Maccabi Haifa hosts Bnei Sakhnin on Monday Hapoel Haifa can send cross-town rival Maccabi to the bottom of the standings should it win at Teddy Stadium.
The Greens are set to be guided on Monday by youth team coach Arik Benado, with Ran Ben-Shimon, who currently coaches AEK Larnaca of the Cypriot league, likely to be announced as Reuven Atar’s replacement this week.