JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Eran Zahavi broke the Israeli league scoring record on Monday with his 30th and 31st goals of the season, beating the 1954-55 record and leading his team to a 3-2 victory against Beitar Jerusalem.
Zahavi scored in the 42nd and 90th minutes in a thrilling match in Tel Aviv to send Maccabi to the top of the Premier League table with 71 points, one ahead of Hapoel Beersheba, with six matches still to play.
Maccabi is aiming for a third straight league title with its only realistic challenger, Beersheba, seeking its first since 1975, in the tightest contest for years.
Nissim Elmaliah of Beitar Tel Aviv achieved his record 30 goals 61 years ago in a season of 26 league fixtures, four fewer than Zahavi has required. The Maccabi captain came close in the past two seasons with 27 and 29 league goals respectively.
“I have been waiting for this moment,” he said after the match as he thanked his family and teammates “for making me a better player”, and Elmaliah, who died in 1989, aged 60, “for setting an formidable threshold”.
“Elmaliah has been mentioned a lot recently as I came close to breaking the record and I think he must be looking down from the heavens and is happy for me,” Zahavi said.
Editing by Louise Ireland