Fight against relegation goes down to the wire

By
April 28, 2013 03:56

Almost half the Premier League league enters final weekend in danger of the drop.

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MACCABI NETANYA striker Ahmed Saba (right) is embraced by teammate Yossi Shivhon.

MACCABI NETANYA 370. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

Six teams will enter next weekend in danger of being demoted from the Premier League after the battle against relegation took another unexpected twist on Saturday night.

Hapoel Ramat Gan was relegated just one season after gaining promotion on Saturday, with its fate being sealed with a 2-1 defeat at Hapoel Acre.

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“This is extremely painful,” said Hapoel Ramat Gan coach Eli Cohen. “We didn’t always manage to translate our good performances to results and it has cost us.”

Guy Dayan (24) and Ohad Kadusi (50) rendered Ran Itzhak’s (69) goal meaningless and ensured Acre will be able to guarantee another season in the top flight with a win at Hapoel Haifa next Saturday.

In fact, Hapoel Haifa (38 points), Beitar Jerusalem (38), Hapoel Beersheba (38), Acre (36), Bnei Sakhnin (36) and Maccabi Netanya (35) have all got their fate in their own hands but will endure an especially tense week knowing that they could find themselves in the National League after their final matches of the season next Saturday.

There are 27 different scenarios for next weekend, but as things currently stand, Netanya sits in 13th place which leads to the second division despite defeating Beitar Jerusalem 3-1 at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.

Avi Rikan gave Beitar the lead in the 15th minute with a splendid strike from 20 meters out, but goals from Firas Mugrabi (28), Yossi Shivhon (43) and Ahmed Saba (80) gave the visitors all three points and seriously complicated Jerusalem’s situation once more.

Netanya will at least enter its home match against Hapoel Beersheba next week knowing a win will see it maintain its Premier League status.

A draw would also be enough for Netanya should Bnei Sakhnin lose at home to Beitar Jerusalem or Acre lose at Haifa.

“We have got our fate in our hands, but we must win,” said Netanya coach Reuven Atar. “We will be playing for an entire season.”

Sakhnin could only manage a 1-1 draw at Ashdod SC on Saturday. Yero Bello gave Sakhnin the lead in the 14th minute, but Shay Maimon equalized for the hosts 14 minutes later.

Beitar can afford to lose by a single goal at Sakhnin, but a defeat by more than one goal and victories for Netanya and for Acre at Haifa could see Jerusalem relegated on goal difference.

Hapoel Beersheba moved tied on 38 points with Beitar and Haifa with a 2-0 victory over the latter on Saturday thanks to goals from Nicolas Falczuk (31) and Dovev Gabai (89).

In the championships playoffs, Bnei Yehuda beat Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 courtesy of Adam Hrepka’s 33rd-minute strike.

Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Ramat Hasharon on Sunday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first match since being crowned champion to be against Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday.


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