Rampant Maccabi Tel Aviv continues to roll
MACCABI TEL AVIV players celebrate 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yellow-and-blue crush Kiryat Shmona for fourth straight win to remain in first place.
Maccabi Tel Aviv steamrolled yet another helpless Premier League opponent on Saturday, easily beating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3-0 at Bloomfield Stadium to extend the perfect start to its title defense.The yellow-and-blue’s fourth win in four matches was never in doubt once Eran Zahavi gave it an 8th-minute lead and Maccabi also improved its combined goal difference to 9-0, becoming the first team in top flight history to triumph in its first four games without conceding a goal.“I’m happy for the victory and for the way the players transformed a difficult game,” said Maccabi coach Paulo Sousa. “They implemented everything we planned and we got the result we wanted. I’m very satisfied from my team and players.”Maccabi picked up where it left off from last week’s convincing dismantling of Maccabi Haifa, with Zahavi continuing his superb form, netting his second goal of the season with a free-kick from 20 meters out. Zahavi also began the move that led to the second goal of the night in the 21st minute, finding Tal Ben-Haim on the left flank, who accurately squared the ball for the incoming Munas Dabbur.Maccabi clinched the win by halftime, with Ben-Haim and Dor Micha tearing the Kiryat Shmona defense apart with a quick exchange of passes and the former scoring with ease in the first minute of stoppage time to render the second half as no more than garbage time. Hapoel Beersheba will join Maccabi on 12 points should it also maintain its perfect start to the season when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on Monday night.Maccabi Haifa already finds itself eight points behind league-leading Maccabi Tel Aviv after failing to win for a third straight match.Haifa at least snapped its losing streak by drawing 0-0 at Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday, but Greens coach Arik Benado looked understandably concerned after his team was found wanting in front of goal for a second straight game following last week’s humbling 3-0 defeat at the hands of the yellow-and-blue.Both Haifa and Sakhnin had plenty of chances to break the deadlock, with the hosts even having a goal wrongly disallowed after just three minutes.However, poor finishing combined with excellent goalkeeping by Sakhnin’s Mahmud Kandil and Haifa’s Bojan Saranov maintained the goalless stalemate.“We had enough chances to win the match,” said Benado. “We suffered a blow last week, but we will get back to our best.”Hapoel Tel Aviv continued to gather momentum on Saturday following its poor start to the season, thrashing Hapoel Haifa 4-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.Tel Aviv failed to find the back of the net in its first two matches of the campaign, but beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-1 last week for its first win and made it seven goals in two games by outplaying Haifa on Saturday.There was nothing to separate the sides at the break, but Omer Damari gave the visitors the lead two minutes into the second half before Itay Shechter doubled the advantage 10 minutes later.Damari scored his second goal of the night in the 78th minute and Israel Zaguri capped the easy victory in the 90th minute.Hapoel Ramat Hasharon’s troubles deepened after it was beaten 3-0 at Ashdod SC.Ramat Hasharon’s management sacked coach Rafi Cohen after last week’s 3-1 loss to Hapoel Ra’anana, but it didn’t receive the reaction it was hoping for on Saturday, with the visitors being outplayed yet again in Haim Shabo’s first match in charge.David Solari scored his first goal as an Ashdod player in the 15th minute, with second-half strikes from Roei Beckel (55) and Gadi Kinde (66) securing the three points.Ramat Hasharon remained the only team in the league yet to pick up a point this season after Petah Tikva and Hapoel Acre drew 1-1 on Saturday, snapping three-match losing streaks.Guy Dayan gave the visitors the lead in the 53rd minute, with Pedro Galvan equalizing for Petah Tikva seven minutes later.On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem will look to bounce back from its erratic start to the campaign when it visits surprise-package Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.