Still no stopping rampant Maccabi TA

Despite cup disappointment, yellow-and-blue increase lead by blanking Sakhnin with a convincing 3-0 win at Doha.

football370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv showed no lasting effects from its shock State Cup exit on Saturday, convincingly beating Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 at Doha Stadium for its sixth straight win to extend its lead at the top of the Premier League standings to 11 points.
Maccabi was beaten 2-0 by Beitar Jerusalem in the last 16 of the cup last week, but it bounced right back against Sakhnin, scoring all three of its goals from set pieces.
Maharan Radi’s corners were turned in by Eitan Tibi (21) and Rade Prica (61) and the former Sakhnin midfielder turned from provider to scorer in the 82nd minute, burying a sensational free kick.
“There are no easy games for us in this league,” said Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia. “We have to work hard from the first minute until the end to claim the win and that is what we did tonight.”
Maccabi Haifa can close back to within eight points of the yellowand- blue when it hosts Hapoel Haifa on Monday night.
Maccabi Haifa is already guaranteed to end the regular season in second place after Hapoel Tel Aviv could only manage a 1-1 draw against Ashdod SC at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday.
Hapoel was fortunate to claim wins in its first two matches under Freddy David since he replaced Yossi Abuksis as coach, but its poor form caught up with it on Saturday.
Stefan Scepovic gave Ashdod the lead with a clever free kick in the third minute, with Omer Damari equalizing for Hapoel from the penalty spot in first half stoppage time.
After a promising start to the season, Ashdod has won just one of its past 14 matches and will need to defeat Bnei Yehuda in its final regular season match next week and for other results to go its way to sneak into the championship playoffs.
The league will be split into two sections after next week’s action. The top six teams will play each other twice more (10 matches in total) to decide the champion, while the bottom eight teams will play each other once more to determine the relegation battle.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon currently sits in the coveted sixth position, despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday.
Dusan Matovic scored the only goal of the match in the 41st minute to bring Kiryat Shmona within a single point of Hapoel Tel Aviv in third place.
Beitar Jerusalem can leapfrog Ashdod and Ramat Hasharon into sixth place with a victory over Maccabi Netanya at Teddy Stadium on Sunday.
Bnei Yehuda is just two points back of Kiryat Shmona after Nenad Marinkovic’s goal (55) gave it a 1-0 win over Hapoel Beersheba.
Only three points separate the league’s bottom five teams after Hapoel Acre claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday.Guy Dayan’s second-minute opener for Acre was canceled out by Dorin Goga’s penalty two minutes from time, but Dedi Ben-Dayan gave the visitors a crucial win three minutes into injury time.
Roni Steinbach contributed to this report