Hapoel TA opens second half with 5-0 win

Reds destroy Hapoel Haifa at Bloomfield; Betar draws with Netanya 0-0

Hapoel Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Hapoel Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
With its Champions League campaign out of the way, Hapoel Tel Aviv is beginning to find its rhythm in the Premier League, thrashing Hapoel Haifa 5-0 at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday to go top of the standings.
Since the start of December, the reigning champion has won four straight matches by a combined goal difference of 15-1, scoring four goals or more in three of the contests.
Hapoel’s main challengers for the title, Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv, have only scored four goals in a match once all season between them, with the yellow-and-blue netting more than two goals in just a single game to date.
Hapoel, however, is finally beginning to find the back of the net with the pace and style it employed on its way to the championship last season, tearing Nitzan Shirazi’s team apart on Saturday.
“This is an outstanding start to the second round of matches,” Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman said. “Despite the win, there were some problems in our defensive game and we will correct them.”
Hapoel’s stay in first place could be a short one, with Maccabi Haifa hosting Maccabi Tel Aviv at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday, needing a victory to return to the top.
The Reds got the early goal they were looking for at Bloomfield on Saturday, with Ben Sahar scoring with a clinical finish in the 14th minute after another excellent through ball by Eran Zahavi.
Salim Toama doubled the margin in first half stoppage time with a splendid free kick from the edge of the box, and with a 2-0 lead at the break, the hosts were never going to be caught.
Zahavi headed in the third goal of the night in the 61st minute and Tel Aviv substitute goalkeeper Galil Ben- Sha’anan, standing in for Vincent Enyeama, maintained his team’s clean sheet with a superb game, saving a penalty from Eden Ben-Basat in the 68th minute.
Six minutes later, Gili Vermut could have scored himself, but decided instead pass to Sahar for his second goal of the night, and Itai Shechter wrapped up the scoring six minutes from time, slotting the ball home from the penalty spot.
Meanwhile, Betar Jerusalem could only manage a disappointing 0-0 against Maccabi Netanya at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.
Betar’s attacking game was once again poor, but Uri Malmilian can at least draw some encouragement from his team’s fourth clean sheet in its past five matches.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s slump continued on Saturday, as the northerners fell to their third straight 1-0 defeat, this time at lowly Bnei Sakhnin.
Maharan Abu Raiya scored the only goal of the night in the 26th minute, snapping Sakhnin’s three-match losing streak while extending Kiryat Shomona’s winless run to five games.
Hapoel Beersheba closed in on the top six on Saturday, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time goal by William Suarez.
Asi Mashiah gave the visitors the lead after seven minutes, but Maor Melikson equalized for Beersheba with a penalty in the 63rd minute.
The hosts would go on to claim the win thanks to Suarez’s long range effort, with Mashiah being sent off in the 75th minute.
Ashdod SC climbed to eighth position with a 3-1 win over Hapoel Acre on Saturday and is only three points away from fourth place.
Roei Dayan gave Acre the lead in the third minute, but Moshe Ohayon (19) tied the score and Nevo Mizrahi (77) and Amir Lavi (81) ensured all three points would stay in Asdod after Acre’s Itzik Cohen was sent off in the 68th minute.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Yehuda drew 1-1, with Pini Balili (42) giving the visitors the lead and Carlos Chacana (47) equalizing for Ramat Gan.