Hapoel Tel Aviv title hopes suffer blow

Hapoel loses 2-1 to Bnei Yehuda, giving Maccabi Tel Aviv chance to go four points clear.

BNEI YEHUDA players celebrate 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
BNEI YEHUDA players celebrate 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will have an ideal opportunity to open a four-point gap at the top of the Premier League standings on Sunday night after Hapoel Tel Aviv failed to win for a fourth straight match on Saturday, losing 2-1 to Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi hosts rock-bottom Hapoel Haifa, which has drawn its last three matches but has just a sole win to its name in 15 games this season.
The yellow-and-blue has Bnei Yehuda to thank for having the chance to put some daylight between itself and the Reds after Dror Kashtan’s men made the most of another disastrous display by Hapoel.
After picking up a combined three points against three of the league’s bottom four sides in the past three weeks, Hapoel was desperate for a win on Saturday.
However, it lacked urgency and desire and dropped to its fourth defeat of the campaign, with Adam Hrepka (13) and Sari Falach (53) scoring for Bnei Yehuda before youngster Eden Shrem netted a meaningless consolation goal in the 89th minute, with Hapoel’s Kfir Eizenstein being sent off in stoppage time.
“This is what we are capable of with all our injuries and suspensions,” said Hapoel coach Yossi Abuksis with a resigned expression on his face. “After the January transfer window we will be a better team.”
Maccabi Haifa extended its unbeaten streak to nine matches on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 2-0 for its fifth win in six games.
Like each of Saturday’s matches, the game at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium began with one minute of applause in memory of former Israel coach Emmanuel Scheffer.
Scheffer, who died on Friday at the age of 88, will be best remembered as the coach who guided Israel to its one and only World Cup appearance in 1970.
Weeam Amasha (69) and Shlomi Azulai (72) scored for the Greens, who kept their fifth straight clean-sheet and sixth in seven matches under the guidance of coach Arik Benado.
“Our defensive play continued to look good and we deserved this win because I can’t remember Beersheba even reaching one scoring opportunity,” Benado said.
After an erratic start to the season, reigning-champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona can dream of defending its title once more, closing to within five points of first place on Saturday thanks to a 4-3 win at Maccabi Netanya.
Two goals apiece by Shimon Abu- Hazeira (3, 57) and Sintiyahu Salalik (56, 72) took Kiryat Shmona up to third place, with Ahmed Saba (7), Dragan Ceran (81) and Kobi Dajani (90) scoring for Netanya, which remained in the relegation zone after failing to win for the eighth straight match, losing for the sixth time in that stretch.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon continued its climb up the standings on Saturday, beating Hapoel Ramat Gan 1-0 for its third consecutive victory courtesy of Tom Mansharov’s 31st-minute winner.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin won for a third straight time, coming from behind to defeat Hapoel Acre 2-1 at Doha Stadium.
Tamir Kahlon (27) gave the visitors the lead before Yero Bello (53) and Ali Osamn (56) ensured the three points remained in Sakhnin.
Betar Jerusalem hosts Ashdod SC on Monday.