After eight years in the Premier League, Maccabi Netanya was relegated from the top flight on Saturday night, suffering a 3-0 home defeat to Hapoel Beersheba.

Hapoel Haifa, Beitar Jerusalem, Beersheba, Hapoel Acre, Bnei Sakhnin and Netanya all entered Saturday in danger of facing demotion to the National League, with each team having its fate in its own hands as the six sides all played each other.

There were essentially an infinite amount of scenarios for Saturday, but Beersheba’s emphatic victory over Netanya rendered the draws between Sakhnin and Jerusalem and Acre and Haifa as meaningless and sent Netanya down to the second division for the first time since 2004.

“This is really painful,” said Netanya coach Reuven Atar, who joined the team less than two months ago and was also at the helm when the side was relegated in 2003. “I’m not disappointed for myself, but for this club which I really love and has got great potential. Beersheba was several levels better than we were.

The league will miss Netanya and I hope this club will be able to return to the Premier League next season.”

Netanya knew that it had to at least draw with Beersheba to have any chance of climbing out of 13th place, but it was outplayed from the first whistle.

Beersheba kept its best performance of the campaign for its last match, taking the lead in the 29th minute through a superb Dovev Gabai free kick before doubling its advantage five minutes later thanks to Siraj Nassar’s strike from the edge of the area.

Netanya went in search of a lifeline at the start of the second half, but it lost all hope in the 65th minute after Gabai scored one of the goals of the season, picking up the ball at the halfway line and beating three players before sending an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. “We played our best game when it mattered most,” said Beersheba’s delighted coach Elisha Levy.

The news of Beersheba’s lead in Netanya quickly filtered through to the stadiums in Sakhnin and Haifa, allowing the other strugglers to take their foot off the gas.

Sakhnin and Beitar drew 0-0, with the main talking point of the match arriving in the 39th minute when Jerusalem’s Zaur Sadayev was sent off for a reckless challenge on Khaled Khalaila.

“This was a strange season and unfortunately the future doesn’t seem very bright,” said Beitar coach Eli Cohen. “The nightmare is behind us.

You could write a book about what we went through this season.”

Acre and Haifa drew 1-1, with Haifa’s Maharan Lala (45) canceling out Ohad Kadusi’s opener (14).

Also Saturday, Ashdod SC beat the already-relegated Hapoel Ramat Gan 2- 1. Stefan Scepovic netted a brace for the winners (20, 89), with Ramat Gan scoring through a Nir Biton own-goal.

Maccabi Tel Aviv celebrated its first championship since 2003 with tens of thousands of its supporters at Rabin Square on Saturday night, hours after beating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to Eran Zahavi’s 87th-minute winner.

On Sunday, Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, while Bnei Yehuda hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday.

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