Local Soccer: Tel Aviv clubs move away from drop

Hapoel defeated a struggling Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium, while Maccabi dominated Maccabi Herzliya on the road.

Hapoel 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv both moved five points clear of the relegation zone on Saturday with victories over Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Herzliya, respectively. Hapoel defeated a struggling Haifa 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium, its third straight league win. Maccabi dominated Maccabi Herzliya on the road, winning the relegation battle 3-1. Ashdod SC squandered a two-goal lead against Hapoel Kfar Saba on Saturday, losing 4-2 and further complicating its situation in the relegation zone. Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda drew 1-1 with Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Sakhnin defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0. On Sunday, top of the table and reigning champion Betar Jerusalem hosts second-placed Maccabi Netanya at Teddy Stadium. Hapoel Tel Aviv 2, Maccabi Haifa 0 After a poor first half, Hapoel seized control of the match and claimed another important victory. Two minutes after the interval Haifa's defense failed to clear the ball and Bibres Natcho was on hand to tuck in the opener. In the 58th minute, the visitors had an ideal opportunity to tie the score after Elin Topuzakov handled the ball in the box, but for a second straight match Haifa missed a penalty. On Tuesday, Brazilian Renato failed to score from the spot against Betar and on Saturday Yaniv Katan's shot was saved by Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama. Hapoel made the most of Haifa's miss and five minutes later Shlomi Arbaitman scored against his ex-team with a towering header, sending the visitors to their third loss in four matches. "Haifa was better in the first half and we failed to create scoring opportunities," Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said after the match. "We were very determined in the second half and surged forward every time we had a chance. We showed our maturity and character with the win tonight." Maccabi Herzliya 1, Maccabi Tel Aviv 3 Tel Aviv climbed to eighth in the standings, leapfrogging Herzliya, thanks to a comfortable victory on Saturday. The yellow-and-blue took the lead in the fifth minute after Frenchman Jonathan Assous put through countryman Yannick Kamanan, who slotted the ball past keeper Itamar Nitzan. Within 10 minutes, however, the hosts equalized, with Omer Buksenboim smashing in the rebound from Dragoslav Jevric's save. The visitors went ahead once more in the 30th minute after Joe Bizera took advantage of Nitzan's failure to clear the ball and tucked in his team's second goal with ease. Seven minutes after the interval Alain Masudi wrapped up the win. Kamanan set-up the French midfielder, who had no trouble scoring Tel Aviv's third of the match and his second goal since joining the club in the January transfer window. "We went through a tough week after losing in the derby and we finally have a reason to smile tonight," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said on Saturday. "We defeated a good team convincingly and didn't fall apart after conceding the equalizer, scoring two more goals to win." Ashdod SC 2, Hapoel Kfar Saba 4 Ashdod was up by two goals after just 10 minutes, but a hatrick by Samuel Yeboah turned the match on its head and secured Kfar Saba's first victory in six matches. Bulgarian Dimitar Makriev scored the opener in the seventh minute and Idan Shriki doubled the host's lead just three minutes later. Kfar Saba would, however, tie the score with two goals in two minutes. In the 25th minute Yeboah scored his first of the match and two minutes later Douglas da Silva equalized with a header. Ten minutes after the interval Yeboah completed his team's comeback, scoring from close range. In the 69th minute Ashdod's Lior Reuven and Hapoel's Guillermo Israelevitch were sent-off and in second half injury time Yeboah chipped in his third goal of the match to secure his side's win. Bnei Yehuda 1, Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1 Eliran Atar's outstanding goal in the 89th minute gave Beni Yehuda an important point against Kiryat Shmona. The visitors went ahead in the eighth minute thanks to Yuval Avidor's seventh goal of the season, but couldn't build on their early lead and paid the price late on. Bnei Sakhnin 1, Maccabi Petah Tikva 0 A 61st minute goal by Romanian Bogdan Apostu gave Sakhnin its first win in four league matches. Maor Buzaglo missed a penalty for Sakhnin in first half stoppage time, but the hosts controlled the proceedings throughout the 90 minutes and scored a deserved winner against Petah Tikva in the second half.