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ALLON SINAI \
Ramat Gan shuts out Lod to book Premier League return
Hapoel Ramat Gan.
(photo credit:Asaf Kliger)
After just one season, Hapoel Ramat Gan returned to the Premier League on
Friday, defeating Bnei Lod 2-0 in a winner- takes-all showdown at the Moshava
Stadium in Petah Tikva.Ramat Gan, Lod and Maccabi Herzliya ended the
National League regular season tied on points last week, but only the first two
played for promotion due to their superior goal difference.Omer
Buksenboim put Ramat Gan in the driving seat after less than six minutes on
Friday with a nifty move on the edge of the area that left the Lod defense
helpless.Ramat Gan survived some nervy moments in the second half before
a splendid solo effort by Ofir Hemo, who began his 75th-minute run on the
halfway line, clinched the win, four weeks after the teams made front-page
headlines following a mass-brawl between players and officials.However,
Ramat Gan will not be making too many preparations for the Premier League just
yet, and not through any fault of its own.Lod’s 6-0 win over Maccabi Ahi
Nazareth last week, which saw it leapfrog Herzliya on goal difference, is under
police investigation for match-fixing.The Israel Football Association
announced ahead of Friday’s match that should police determine that Lod’s win
was not legitimate another playoff decider could be held between Ramat Gan and
Herzliya.However, Ramat Gan coach Freddy David is certain Friday’s
result will stand and his team will play in the top flight next
season.“We are going on our holidays, players are going to be released
because they are out of contract so there will not be another match,” David
said.“This was a difficult season but we always knew we could gain
promotion.“Bnei Lod failed to beat us in all four of our meetings this
season and we deserved to gain promotion. I dedicate this promotion to Carlos
Chakana.”Chakana scored the dramatic 90th-minute winner that gave Ramat
Gan a 3-2 win over Hapoel Ra’anana last week before bursting into tears and
dedicating the goal to his son Igor who died at the age of 12 last November
after a battle with cancer.“I already said last week that Igor is
helping us from above,” Chakana said.“I’m in so much pain, but I’d like
to thank him for everything.”
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