Maccabi Tel Aviv closes in on Betar with late win

Mrdakovic 88th minute strike sees off Hapoel Petah Tikva; other results: Hap. TA 0, Mac. Petah Tikva 1; Hakoach Ramat Gan 0, Ashdod SC 1; Mac. Herzliya 1, Mac. Netanya 0.

Maccabi Tel Aviv continued its impressive run in the Israeli Premier League Saturday, with its fourth win in six games against lowly Hapoel Petah Tikva. Eli Cohen's team, which started the season with two straight home defeats, has not lost for its last six league games and looks ready to challenge Betar Jerusalem's supremacy at Teddy next week. Maccabi Petah Tikva also kept its title aspirations alive, producing another determined performance to beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 at Bloomfield. Yossi Mizrahi's Betar Jerusalem will be looking to reconquer first place as it travels to Bloomfield to take on Nitzan Shirazi's Bnei Yehuda in Sunday's televised fixture. Match Day 11 will be completed Monday evening at Kiryat Eliezer, when reigning champion Maccabi Haifa host Eli Ohana's Hapoel Kfar Saba. In Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv elected to play a defensive game for most of the first half, but took the lead in the 40th minute. Fan-favorite Avi Nimni took control of the ball on the edge of the box and sent a sharp shot into Rafi Cohen's goal. Tel Aviv's Yuval Spungin was sent off in the 74th minute, after collecting his second yellow card for a foul. Petah Tikva took advantage and equalized just six minutes later when Said Makasi finished off a swift raid with an impressive left-footed shot. But just when a home comeback was in the air, Milan Mrdakovic stunned the hosts with an unexpected goal. The Serbian striker found himself unmarked in the box and capitalized on a defensive blunder by Petah Tikva to provide a close range finish in the 88th minute. Hapoel Tel Aviv 0, Maccabi Petah Tikva 1 Patrick Suffo's hard work wasn't wasted as the "Luzon's" broke the deadlock in the 58th minute. Omer Golan gained possession outside the penalty area and exchanged passes with Suffo. The Nigerian striker used all his experience and set up Golan in the box, who struck the ball past Shavit Elimelech give his side the 1-0 win. Hakoach Ramat Gan 0, Ashdod SC 1 Ramat Gan coach Uri Malmilian looked on course to guide his team to a rare draw until Holtzman stuck gold. Ashdod's experienced marksman needed just one chance, which arrived in the 78th minute. Shai Holtzman received the ball in the area after an Ashdod counter attack, danced past his markers and curled the ball into the goal to give the visitors the points. Maccabi Herzliya 1, Maccabi Netanya 0 Netanya entered the game as clear favorites, with bottom of the table Herzliya looking to avoid its seventh loss of the season. Fredi David's team came ahead despite the odds and stunned the visitors with an early first half goal. Omer Buksenboim took the ball in his stride, made space and dispatched a pile driver into the net.