Mac TA opens 8-point gap after late drama

Yellow-and-blue beat Ramat Gan 1-0 thanks to Levy’s late save; Netanya stuns Hap TA.

Ahmed Saba  (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Ahmed Saba
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A 94th-minute penalty save by goalkeeper Barak Levy clinched a 1-0 victory for Maccabi Tel Aviv over Hapoel Ramat Gan at the National Stadium on Saturday night, extending the yellow-and-blue’s gap at the top of the Premier League standings to eight points.
Maccabi entered the match on the back of a four-game winless streak on the road, and it was far from convincing once more on Saturday.
However, Maharan Radi gave the yellowand- blue the lead in the 54th minute and Levy ensured it picked up all three points by saving Israel Zaguri’s penalty four minutes into stoppage time after referee Guy Berger determined that Shiran Yeini blocked the ball with his hand.
Maccabi increased its lead in the table to eight points after Hapoel Tel Aviv crashed to a humbling 3-0 home-defeat to Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium, its third straight loss.
Hapoel entered the match ravaged by injuries and suspensions, but it should still have never been completely outplayed by Netanya, which clinched the win by the break.
Dragan Ceran gave Netanya the lead in the ninth minute and his free-kick in the 27th minute also found the back of the net after taking a deflection off Hapoel’s Shay Abutbul.
Ahmed Saba took Netanya’s lead to 3-0 with a penalty in first-half stoppage time, with Hapoel ‘keeper Boris Klieman being sent off for the foul on Firas Mugrabi, ending any hope the hosts may have had even before the second half began.
Maccabi hosts Hapoel in the Tel Aviv derby next Monday in a showdown from which there could be no return for the Reds.
Maccabi Haifa can close back to within five points of the yellow-and-blue with a win over Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday.
Hapoel Beersheba put some real distance between itself and the relegation zone on Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 1-0 for its third straight win.
Dovev Gabai scored the only goal of the match in the 55th minute and Ashdod dropped to its seventh defeat in the past 10 matches.
Bnei Sakhnin also eased its relegation worries on Saturday, beating Hapoel Haifa 3-1 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Allah Abu Saleh (32), Ahmed Kasoum (49) and Yero Bello (60) scored for Sakhnin, with Dusan Brkovic netting a consolation goal for Haifa.
Hapoel Acre remained at the bottom of the standings on Saturday, but it picked up a precious point, drawing 1-1 with Ironi Kiryat Shmona thanks to Ohad Kadusi’s stoppage-time goal.
Dusan Matovic gave Kiryat Shmona a 77th-minute lead, but Kadusi’s header ensured coach Yuval Naim’s tenure got off to a positive start after replacing the sacked Shimon Hadari on Friday.
On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, with new Chechen recruits Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev not expected to play.