Yeboah and Lala score in the second half to down cross-town rival Maccabi.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Tel Aviv moved up to third position in the league standings on Monday night as it handed arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv a stinging 2-0 defeat at Bloomfield Stadium.
The derby match was, as always, hotly contested and both teams gave their all.
But while the sides couldn't be separated in effort, there was one significant difference between the teams which decided the encounter.
Both sides reached scoring opportunities, but while Hapoel made the most of its chances, the visitors squandered theirs.
Maharan Lala did most of the damage for Hapoel, first setting up Samuel Yeboah in the 59th minute and then scoring his team's second with a precision shot seven minutes later.
The loss was Avi Nimni's first as Maccabi coach and leaves the team four points behind its cross-town rival, and 11 points away from the Premier League's top two, Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Netanya.
Both sets of fans were up for the occasion and created a fantastic atmosphere at Bloomfield.
After a nervy start to the match, Hapoel registered the first chance of the encounter in the 14th minute.
Lala broke down the right flank and crossed the ball perfectly for Yeboah, but the Ghanaian's flick went centimeters wide of Dragoslav Jevric's goal to the yellow-and-blue's relief.
Yeboah's miss gave Maccabi a wakeup call and the visitors bombarded Vincent Enyeama's goal in the subsequent minutes, but to no avail.
It was Hapoel which had the next dangerous opportunity of the encounter, twice coming close to scoring within several seconds in the 31st minute.
Yeboah's header from Shay Abutbul's free kick was saved by Jevric and seconds later Douglas da Silva's shot got the better of the 'keeper, only for Dor Malul to head the ball off the goal line.
Six minutes later, it was midfielder Gili Vermot who almost gave the hosts the lead, wriggling free in the Maccabi box before sending his shot just wide.
Maccabi felt it should have gone into the break in the lead, however, after Walid Badier's poor back pass to Enyeama four minutes before the interval was headed onto the crossbar by Maor Buzaglo.
Seven minutes into the second half Maccabi came tantalizingly close to taking the lead once more with Moshe Mishaelof's bullet only being kept out by an acrobatic Enyeama save.
Another seven minutes passed and the yellow-and-blue paid the ultimate price for its misses.
After some excellent build-up play on the left, Lala crossed the ball for Yeboah, who powerfully headed the ball beyond Jevric.
In the 66th minute man-of-the-match Lala clinched the win for Hapoel.
After Ilya Yavruyan failed to control the ball three meters from an empty Hapoel net, the hosts raced down the other end and Lala elegantly slotted in Dimitar Telkiyski's pass from the edge of the box to the delight of the home support.
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