Reds take over first place with 5-0 rout

Hap TA pounds Hap PT; Beersheba holds Mac Haifa to draw; Mac PT sacks Balbul.

Toto Tamuz 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Toto Tamuz 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
An Omer Damari hat-trick and two goals from Toto Tamuz fired Hapoel Tel Aviv to the top of the Premier League standings on Saturday night, with the Reds thrashing Hapoel Petah Tikva 5-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
However, Hapoel’s current stay in first place could be short-lived, with Maccabi Tel Aviv to leapfrog its archrival with a win at Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Sunday.
Despite being bottom of the standings, Petah Tikva entered Saturday’s match having lost just once in its past six games. However, it was torn apart at Bloomfield, with Damari netting the opener from the center of the box in the 15th minute before Andre Caldeira was sent-off seven minutes later, being shown a second yellow card for elbowing Tamuz.
Tel Aviv had Petah Tikva at its mercy and it showed no sympathy for the basement boys. Damari doubled the lead in the 27th minute, with Tamuz scoring in the 51st and 79th, sandwiching Damari’s third goal of the night in the 64th.
“We were committed and determined and that shows in the scoreline,” said Hapoel coach Dror Kashtan, who will have already turned his focus to his team’s Europa League match against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa trails Hapoel by five points after only managing a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday and could find itself seven points back of first place should the yellow-and-blue win on Sunday.
Beersheba deserved to lead at halftime in coach Guy Levy’s first match at the helm since replacing Nir Klinger, with Yossi Shivhon giving the hosts the breakthrough in the 20th minute.
However, Ivan Garrido foolishly brought down Weeam Amasha deep into first half stoppage time and Eyal Meshumar stepped up to convert the penalty and equalize.
Haifa dominated the second half, but couldn’t find the back of the net and is starting to lose touch with Tel Aviv’s big two after failing to win for the third time in four league matches.
“We really played poorly in the first half,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said.
“We were much better in the second half but we weren’t composed enough in front of goal. We created chances but couldn’t convert them. We need to find a way to take three points in matches in which we don’t play so well.”
The match in Beersheba had to be stopped for several minutes after a smoke bomb was set off inside the hosts’ stand in the 10th minute, sending hundreds of fans scurrying for cover.
Maccabi Petah Tikva is looking for a new coach after sacking Marco Balbul following Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
Petah Tikva seemed to be cruising after Zion Zemah (28) and Victor Merey (48) gave it a 2-0 lead, but Oren Nissim (53) and Yossi Ofir (65) equalized for the visitors before Tomer Swisa scored a dramatic winner with a solo effort in the 92nd minute.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda drew 1-1 with Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium, with Ohad Kadusi (42) scoring for the visitors and Nenad Marinkovic (57) equalizing for Bnei Yehuda.
Hapoel Haifa is still winless after drawing 1-1 with Maccabi Netanya at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. Ben Binyamin (30) scored for the visitors, with Yuval Avidor (61) netting for Haifa.
Hapoel Acre and Ashdod SC went home with one point each after a 2-2 draw. Sintiyahu Salalik (9) and Stefan Scepovic (62) twice gave Acre the lead, only for Moshe Ben-Lulu (33) and Paty Yeye (76) to twice equalize.
On Monday, Betar Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Rishon Lezion.