Maccabi Tel Aviv finally got its hands on the Premier League championship shield on Sunday night and celebrated in style by defeating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3-1 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi officially secured its second straight league title with last Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Hapoel Beersheba, clinching a record 20th championship in club history with three matches to spare.
However, the yellow-and-blue had to wait until its next home match before being awarded the championship shield and it made sure its fans had every reason to celebrate on Sunday with a convincing victory over the State Cup holder.
Maccabi took the lead in the 15th minute after Dan Einbinder’s attempted pass found the bottom right corner, with teammate Eran Zahavi and the Kiryat Shmona defense all missing the ball. The hosts doubled their advantage nine minutes later, with Einbinder providing the assist and Dor Micha rounding ‘keeper Guy Haimov before slotting the ball into the empty net.
Roei Kehat got a goal back for Kiryat Shmona from the penalty spot in the 30th minute, but Zahavi ensured Maccabi secured yet another win with his 74th-minute strike, taking his tally for the season to 24 goals, tying him with Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Omer Damari.
“Even in a match like today we were committed and with such an attitude we will go far,” said Zahavi.
The top six teams will all play midweek before capping their campaigns on Saturday.
All that remains to be decided is which team will end the season in fourth place and qualify for the Europa League.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which visits Bnei Sakhnin on Tuesday, currently holds a one-point gap over Maccabi Haifa. The Greens host Maccabi Tel Aviv at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Wednesday in their final match at their home of the past 59 years ahead of the move to the new Sammy Ofer Stadium at the start of next season.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Beersheba looks to officially wrap up the runners- up position by avoiding defeat at Kiryat Shmona.
In other soccer news, Hapoel Acre and coach Yuval Naim parted ways on Sunday, a day after the team’s final match of the season.
Acre fought against relegation for much of the campaign before ultimately securing its survival last week with one match to play.