Mac TA back in first with emphatic triumph

Yellow-and-blue thrash Sakhnin 4-0; Betar clinches dramatic victory at Netanya.

Munas Dabbur 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Munas Dabbur 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to the top of the Premier League standings in resounding fashion on Saturday night, thrashing Bnei Sakhnin 4-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
The yellow-and-blue dropped to second place on goal difference last week despite defeating Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 4-3. However, it should now be able to maintain its hold on first for at least a week after scoring four unanswered goals on Saturday.
Maccabi netted a fortuitous opener in the fourth minute, with Yoav Ziv’s cross taking a wicked deflection off Idan Veitzman and flying into the back of the net over goalkeeper Mahmud Kannadil’s head.
Eliran Atar took his personal tally for the season to 12 goals with two second-half strikes (52, 60), with Munas Dabbur completing the rout in stoppage time, scoring from the rebound of his missed penalty.
Hapoel Tel Aviv visits third-placed Ashdod SC on Monday, but the Reds will need to win by four goals to leapfrog their arch-rival back into first place.
A 93rd-minute winner by Avi Rikan gave Betar Jerusalem a dramatic 3-2 victory at Maccabi Netanya on Saturday, taking the yellow-and-black up to fourth position.
A superb finish by Rikan put Betar in front after 13 minutes, but the score was all square at halftime after Dragan Ceran equalized with an accurate free kick (27).
An unstoppable Eran Levy bullet from 20 meters out gave Jerusalem the lead yet again (67), but the match seemed heading for a stalemate after Serge Bongeli tied the score at 2-2 nine minutes later. However, Rikan gave Betar all three points deep into stoppage time, securing the team’s fifth win in its past seven matches.
David Manga ensured Eli Cohen’s tenure as Hapoel Ramat Gan coach got off to a dream start on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick to give his team a 3-0 win at Cohen’s former club Hapoel Acre.
Cohen replaced Freddy David on Wednesday and guided Ramat Gan to what was just its second win of the season thanks to Manga’s three second-half goals (53, 68, 89).
Hapoel Beersheba also claimed just its second win of the campaign on Saturday, beating Bnei Yehuda 1-0 thanks to Tomer Swisa’s curling free kick in the 32nd-minute.
Champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona continued its improvement of recent weeks, defeating Ramat Hasharon 2-0 courtesy of Shimon Abu Hazeira’s brace (61, 64).
Hapoel Haifa hosts Maccabi Haifa in the derby at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday.