Kiryat Shmona temporarily goes top

Northerners grind out 2-1 win in Acre; Levy finally gets a win at Beersheba.

SHIMON ABU HAZEIRA 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona continued to prove its doubters wrong on Saturday, claiming an impressive 2-1 victory at Hapoel Acre to climb to the top of the Premier League standings for at least 48 hours.
Kiryat Shmona fell behind early to Aleksandar Davidov’s goal in the eighth minute, but Ran Ben-Shimon’s men displayed their character by taking a lead of their own by the break.
Barak Badash equalized in the 17th minute and was tripped in the box 15 minutes later, resulting in Shimon Abu Hazeira’s winner from the penalty spot which gave Kiryat Shmona its seventh victory in eight matches and extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games.
“An extraordinary team is forming in front of our eyes, a team with heart and ability,” Ben-Shimon said. “We have put ourselves in a position that we are battling for something big. This is our reward for all the hard work. We believe in our abilities. I don’t know where this belief will take us, but without belief you can’t succeed.”
Despite its excellent form, Ben-Shimon has been careful not to build up his team’s hopes of winning an historic championship. But he will not be able to do so any longer if Kiryat Shmona beats Hapoel Tel Aviv when the Reds visit up north next week.
Tel Aviv can return to first place on Monday night, but it will need to defeat reigning-champion Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium to do so.
Either way, Kiryat Shmona will enter next week’s showdown in the top two, something no one foresaw at the start of the season.
“We beat one of the best teams in the league in Acre, and I hope we can do so again next week,” Abu Hazeira said.
“We have worked very hard to be in this position.”
At long last, Guy Levy guided Hapoel Beersheba to a victory on Saturday, with the southerners beating Bnei Yehuda 3- 1 at Vasermil Stadium.
Beersheba had hoped that replacing Nir Klinger with Levy would bring about a turn in results, but the team had gone winless in the new coach’s first six matches until finally claiming its second victory of the season on Saturday.
It looked like it would be another depressing night in Beersheba after American-born defender Ryan Adeleye gave Bnei Yehuda the lead with an own goal in the 10th minute.
However, for once, Beersheba fought back, with Siraj Naser turning the match on its head with two goals from long-range in the 17th and 34th minutes before Itzik Vaknin clinched the victory with another excellent strike from distance three minutes after halftime.
Betar Jerusalem’s offensive woes continued on Saturday, with Maccabi Petah Tikva holding the yellow-and-black to a 0-0 draw at Teddy Stadium.
Betar failed to find the back of the net for a second straight match and has scored just three goals in its last eight games.
Ashdod SC continued its rich vein of form on Saturday, strengthening its position in the top three with a 2-1 win over Hapoel Rishon Lezion.
Idan Shriki (51) and Rodgers Kola (69) put Ashdod in a comfortable position, with Rif Mesika’s consolation goal (91) not enough to deny the hosts their fourth straight win and seventh home victory in eight matches this season.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon leapfrogged Maccabi Netanya in the table with a surprise 2-0 road victory over Reuven Atar’s men on Saturday.
Alain Masudi secured the win with a brace (64, 88), giving Ramat Hasharon its second straight win and extending its unbeaten run to seven matches.
Two goals in five second-half minutes gave Bnei Sakhnin a 2-1 victory at Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Yaniv Luzon (33) gave the hosts the lead, but Ahmed Kasoum (72) and Ohad Kadusi (76) ensured Sakhnin returned home with all three points.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to end its three-match losing streak when it visits Hapoel Haifa on Sunday.