(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa can claim a 12th championship in club history with a victory over
Ironi Kiryat Shmona next week after beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 at Bloomfield
Stadium on Saturday night to open a four-point margin over Hapoel Tel Aviv,
which could only manage a 2-2 draw against Maccabi Netanya.
A week after
defeating Hapoel 2-0 to leapfrog the Reds into first place in the standings,
Haifa made the most of its chances against the yellow-and-blue, and after so
cruelly missing out on the title last season, is on verge of reestablishing its
dominance in Israeli soccer.
Tomer Hemed gave Haifa a dream start with a
sixth minute opener, and his second goal of the night – and 11th in the last 13
matches – in first half stoppage time all but clinched the three points for the
Greens and moved them within touching distance of a seventh league title in 11
“We have taken another very significant step, but we are not
celebrating just yet,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said.
“We knew we had to
win tonight and another victory against Kiryat Shmona at home will make us
We knew how to overcome the pressure and scored at crucial
moments. We mustn’t party too early because there are two more matches and we
understand it’s not over yet.
However, we know that our fate is in our
Earlier at Bloomfield, Hapoel was held by Netanya after another
disappointing performance by Eli Gutman’s team.
Ahmed Saba put Netanya in
front in the 57th minute after a superb Kobi Dajani through ball, but Gutman
introduced Gili Vermut and Maharan Lala in the subsequent minutes and his
offensive-minded substitutions paid off almost immediately.
tied the score in the 69th minute and completed the comeback three minutes later
when he was first to the rebound from Lala’s shot which came off the
However, just three more minutes passed before Sergy Tretyak
equalized for Netanya, ensuring the visitors extended their unbeaten run to 13
matches and all but ending Hapoel’s hope of a repeat, with the Reds hosting
Maccabi Tel Aviv next week.
“I can’t understand how we conceded an
equalizer after going in front,” Gutman said. “This isn’t the same team as last
season, but we have to continue to fight.”
Also in the championship
playoffs, a Liroy Zhairi brace (63, 83) gave Bnei Yehuda a 2-1 win at Kiryat
Shmona, which got a consolation goal from Ori Shitrit (84).
against relegation heated up on Saturday after Hapoel Ashkelon beat Bnei Sakhnin
2-1 and already-relegated Hapoel Ramat Gan defeated Hapoel Petah Tikva by the
Nastjah Ceh scored the opener for Sakhnin in the 23rd minute,
but Ravid Gazal (37) and Ilya Yavruyan (54) turned the match on its head and
gave Ashkelon the precious win, which leaves it in 15th place, but moves it
within one point of Sakhnin and two of Petah Tikva.
Petah Tikva led from
Yigal Antebi’s goal (27), but a Gal Cohen (64) owngoal and an injury time Ramat
Gan winner by Ofir Haim seriously complicated Gili Landau’s team’s
Betar Jerusalem effectively secured itself another season of
top-flight soccer with a 0-0 draw at Ashdod SC.
The mid-table playoffs
ended on Saturday, with Hapoel Acre defeating Hapoel Haifa 2-1 thanks to
Mohammed Kalibat’s stoppage time goal, with Maharan Radi (80) giving the hosts
the lead before Alon Buzorgi (87) equalized momentarily for Haifa.
Uzan scored in the 93rd minute to give Hapoel Beersheba a 1- 1 draw with Maccabi
Petah Tikva, which took the lead through Murad Abu Anza in the 45th minute.