Surprising standings early in campaign

 
BNEI YEHUDA FORWARD Amit Zenati kicks a penalty that he converted for the decisive goal in the 79th minute of his team’s 1-0 home victory over Ashdod SC on Sunday night in Israel Premier League action at Bloomfield Stadium. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
BNEI YEHUDA FORWARD Amit Zenati kicks a penalty that he converted for the decisive goal in the 79th minute of his team’s 1-0 home victory over Ashdod SC on Sunday night in Israel Premier League action at Bloomfield Stadium.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Maccabi Petah Tikva tops the table, with Bnei Yehuda in 2nd place • Beitar, Hap TA draw 1-1

The Israel soccer league got back to business over the weekend with four games on Saturday night, including the highly anticipated Hapoel Tel Aviv-Beitar Jerusalem clash that ended in a sparkling 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Stadium.
The Reds found the back of the goal first with an Ori Magbo handball penalty in the 45th minute as Omri Altman converted the spot kick just ahead of the break for a 1–0 Hapoel lead.
However, the visitors came storming back as Michael Ohana scored his first goal in three years and after two major surgeries thanks to a Yarden Shua assist to split the points.
“We definitely have improved over the coronavirus break and we were much better tactically,” said satisfied Reds coach Nir Klinger. “I believe that if we hadn’t given up a goal when we did we would have scored our second of the game. We had plenty of chances to win it but we just didn’t do enough.”
Beitar’s new coach, Slobodan Drapic, reflected on the draw.
“We still need to get some playing time in and you could see that we still aren’t in total game shape. We prepared well and there were moments that I was really happy with. All in all, it was a decent performance.”
Maccabi Netanya overwhelmed Hapoel Kfar Saba 3-0 at the Netanya Stadium in the diamond city.
Hen Ezra got things rolling for the hosts in the third minute with a scintillating strike into the far corner while Yunas Malade doubled the advantage by heading home a corner in the 37th minute.
Omri Gendelman added the third goal of the first half after he nodded in a Gaby Kanichowsky ball to wrap up the three points before the break.
“We finished off the game in the first half,” said a content Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld. “Naturally our pace slowed in the second half, but we didn’t give up a goal in this game or our last which was over a month ago and I’m very happy about that.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva defeated Hapoel Haifa 2-0 despite only playing with 10 men for close to an hour of the match at the Moshava Stadium.
Youngster Liel Abada sent Tai Baribo a 19th minute cross that the latter converted for a 1-0 lead. However, 15 minutes later a reckless foul by Elvis Sakyi saw him sent off with a straight red card leaving the hosts down a man for the balance of the contest.
That didn’t bother Guy Luzon’s side as Or Inbrun scored after a scrum in the box on the 38th minute to hand Petah Tikva the three points and the win.
“This was an exceptional victory,” exclaimed Luzon. “We were dominant and we controlled the pace of play. I very much enjoyed what I saw. We are a very young squad that are very really hungry to win.”
Carmel Reds coach Haim Silvas was distraught following the clash.
“I am very, very disappointed with this game. We gave up an early goal and that killed our confidence. We were a man to the good and we couldn’t even take advantage of the situation.”
Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Hadera played to a 1-1 draw in the northern capital. Late substitute Guy Ben Lulu found the back of the goal for the hosts, canceling out Maxim Plakuschenko’s magnificent strike as each side took a point.
“We played well at times, but it wasn’t enough,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Kobi Refuah. “We didn’t create enough chances and I don’t want to use the break as an excuse.”
Hadera coach Sharon Mimer also weighed in on the result.
“Giving up a late goal is very disappointing and we knew that we may pay a price due to not preparing properly as we physically were unable to keep the lead.”
Bnei Yehuda slipped by Ashdod SC 1-0 on an Amit Zenati penalty in the 79th minute to take the three points at Bloomfield Stadium.
“The players worked hard on the pitch,” said Bnei Yehuda’s new coach Nir Berkovic. “I told them if they played responsibly then they would get a good result. I’m very excited about the win and if I wasn’t then I wouldn’t be in this profession.”
Ashdod bench boss Ran Ben Shimon also spoke about the game.
“After not having played in over a month, I knew that we would tire. But we also need to know how to win these types of games. We didn’t pay close attention to the small details and we paid the price for that.”