Omer Damari and Gil Vermouth scored a goal apiece to lead Hapoel Tel Aviv to a 2-0 home victory past shorthanded Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday.
Elsewhere, second-place Hapoel Be’er Sheva lost ground on Maccabi Tel Aviv when it allowed Hapoel Acre to equalize in injury time, losing a chance to pull within a point of the Premier League leader.
Maccabi Petah Tikva, stuck in the relegation zone, held Hapoel Tel Aviv scoreless through the first half. However, Shmulik Malul was sent off in the 48th minute, after which the pace of the game picked up. While Hapoel was trying to exploit its numerical advantage, Petah Tikva was looking for opportunities for a quick breakaway strike.
Damari finally broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. Vermouth followed up two minutes later to settle the matter. Ran Ben Shimon was thus able to end a streak of three consecutive losses. Hapoel Tel Aviv trails sixth-place Hapoel Haifa, which will host Beitar Jerusalem tonight, by one point.
Down in Be’er Sheva, the hosts got off to a promising start against Hapoel Acre, when Dutch striker Glynor Plet scored in the 12th minute. Be’er Sheva kept Acre at bay for nearly the entire remainder of the match, only to succumb in injury time. Mirko Oremus scored the equalizer two minutes into the extended period of play.
Last-place Bnei Yehuda finally had something to smile about, as new coach Yossi Abukasis picked up his first three points for the squad on Saturday in Doha Stadium. Amir Agayev scored the winner against Bnei Sakhnin in the 67th minute.
Hapoel Ra’anana led Ramat Hasharon 1-0 until the 80th minute, but within four minutes Ben Reichert and Ben Ben-Yair had scored to turn the tables and move into 12th place, two points clear of Maccabi Petah Tikva.
F.C. Ashdod defeated Kiryat Shmona 2-1 in a fast-paced game full of scoring opportunities. Alexander Davidov scored at the end of the first half to give host Ashdod the lead. Kiryat Shmona’s Ahmed Abed equalized just three minutes into the second half, but Timor Avitan handed the game back to the hosts with his 83rd minute winner.