Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Omer Damari (L) beats Acre goalkeeper Dudu Goresh..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv lost important ground in the battle for third place and Europa League qualification on Monday night, suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at Hapoel Acre.
Tel Aviv entered the match on the back of five straight victories, outscoring its opponents 16-2.
The reds looked to be heading to three more points when Omer Damari took his league-best tally to 15 goals in the 37th minute. However, Juliano Spadacio leveled the score with an unstoppable strike from 25 meters out in the 67th minute before Yossi Asayag gave Acre its first-ever victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the 84th minute.
Acre, which won for the first time in nine league games after also failing to score in its past three matches, moved six points clear of the relegation zone.
Tel Aviv remained in fourth place, two points behind Maccabi Haifa.
On Tuesday, the last 16 of the State Cup gets underway. Beitar Jerusalem visits Bnei Lod of the National League, hoping to avoid the shock exit it suffered at the hands of the unheralded club two years ago.
Current Acre coach Yuval Naim was sacked by Beitar a day after the team suffered a 4-3 defeat in a penalty shootout to Lod in the round of 32 two years ago.
Ma’alot-Tarshiha will be looking to become the first fourth division side to reach the cup quarterfinals when it hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva of the National League. Ma’alot-Tarshiha was fortunate enough to be paired with another Liga Bet club in the round of 32, Hapoel Baqa al-Gharbiyye, but will have to record a real upset to advance to the last eight.
Also Tuesday, Ashdod SC visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon in an all-Premier League showdown, while Bnei Sakhnin hosts Hapoel Rishon Lezion (NL) and Maccabi Netanya (NL) faces Upper Nazareth (NL).
On Wednesday, Hapoel Beersheba will look to bounce back from its first Premier League defeat in 15 matches when it visits Hapoel Kfar Saba of the third division.
Beersheba dropped to a 3-1 loss at league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday, falling six points behind the yellow- and-blue in the standings.
However, with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa all already out of the cup, Beersheba looks to be ideally placed to go on and lift its second cup in club history and first since 1997.
Also Wednesday, two more all-Premier League ties will take place, with Hapoel Ra’anana to host Maccabi Petah Tikva and Ironi Kiryat Shmona to visit Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.