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Fight for survival continues to heat up

Hap Petah Tikva, Acre and Hap Haifa all tied for last place while FIFA boosts Ashdod’s hopes.

April 19, 2015 06:34
2 minute read.

Hapoel Acre players and staff celebrated wildly after Elior Cider scored the team’s winner in Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over Hapoel Haifa. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)

Only goal difference separates the three bottom teams in the Premier League standings after another dramatic weekend of action in the battle against relegation.

Hapoel Petah Tikva (-17 goal differential), Hapoel Acre (-20) and Hapoel Haifa (-24) are all tied on 26 points, with Ashdod SC just three points further in front after FIFA canceled the six-point deduction it had been handed due to an unpaid transfer debt.

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Haifa dropped to the bottom of the standings on Saturday after suffering a 1-0 loss at Hapoel Acre, with Elior Cider scoring the winner in the 80th minute.

Petah Tikva revived its hopes by recording just its second win in 17 matches, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium. Ben Reichert gave Tel Aviv the lead in the 50th minute, but Hasan Abu Zaid equalized 10 minutes later and Mirko Oremus scored the winner five minutes from time after Reichert was sent off in the 69th minute.

Ashdod was handed a lifeline after FIFA ordered on Friday the Israel Football Association to cancel its punishment as the club had settled its debt with Nigerian team Kaduna United.

However, Ashdod’s winless streak reached 11 matches on Saturday following a 0-0 draw at Maccabi Netanya.

The two bottom sides at the end of the season will be relegated to the National League.

Also Saturday, Ben Vahaba’s 88th-minute goal gave Hapoel Ra’anana a 1-1 draw against Bnei Sakhnin, which took a 59th-minute lead through Firas Mugrabi.

Beitar Jerusalem looks to remain the only Premier League team not to lose to Maccabi Tel Aviv in local action this season when it visits Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night.

Maccabi is on course for a third consecutive championship, holding an eight-point gap at the top of the standings with seven matches to play.

The yellow-and-blue has beaten every team in the top flight in either league or State Cup action this season, apart from Beitar, which has kept Maccabi frustrated in their two meetings to date.

A stoppage-time equalizer by Omer Atzili forced a 1-1 draw in December, with the talented forward giving his team a 1-0 victory and all three points when the sides met at Teddy Stadium last month.

Beitar and Maccabi will meet one final time this season at Teddy in their penultimate match of the season by which the yellow-and-blue will have hoped to already have secured the league title.

Despite only drawing 0-0 draw at Maccabi Petah Tikva last week, Beitar put on an impressive display and remains well placed to go on and finish in fourth position. A fourthplace finish will be good enough to qualify for the Europa League next season should either Maccabi Tel Aviv or Hapoel Beersheba win the cup, as well as finish among the league’s top three.

Also Sunday, Beersheba hosts Kiryat Shmona in a showdown for the runners- up position.

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