Maccabi Tel Aviv remained on course to claim a first Premier League championship
in 10 years on Saturday night despite only managing a 2- 2 draw against Bnei
Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium.
Tel Aviv came back from two goals down
thanks to an Eran Zahavi brace (34, 42) which canceled out strikes from Adam
Hrepka (13) and Gil Itzhak (24).
However, with the afternoon kickoff at
Bloomfield between secondplaced Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv also ending in
a 2-2 draw, the yellow-and-blue remained 10 points clear at the top of the
standings with just five more matches to be played this season.
Tel Aviv could even clinch the championship next week should it beat Hapoel
Ramat Hasharon and Haifa lose to Bnei Yehuda.
“We only started to play in
the 25th minute and against a team like Bnei Yehuda you can not do that,” said
Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia. “We can’t afford to play 50 percent, we have to play
all the games at 100 percent.
I never say a draw is a good result, but
after 25 minutes I thought it was a good result.”
Earlier Saturday, a
sensational longrange shot by Shay Abutbul gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a 15th-minute
lead over Haifa, but Dino Ndlovu continued his recent excellent form, equalizing
16 minutes later.
Shlomi Azulai capped the comeback and gave the Greens a
deserved lead in the 61st minute, but it took Hapoel just one minute to level
the score, with Abutbul finding the back of the net once more thanks to a
“We conceded two goals from long range, but we
could have won this match,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado, whose team faces Ironi
Kiryat Shmona in the State Cup semifinals on Wednesday. “Hopefully we will beat
Kiryat Shmona, but we also want to continue and win in the league regardless of
the margin from first place.”
Kiryat Shmona beat Ramat Hasharon 1-0 on
Saturday courtesy of Osei Mawuli’s goal in the 69th minute.
matches, Beitar Jerusalem finally returned to winning ways in the Premier League
on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 1-0 thanks to Avi Rikan’s 63rd-minute
Beitar moved eight points clear of the relegation zone and
effectively secured another season in the top flight after picking up three
points for the first time since the club was plunged into turmoil following the
arrival of Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev from Chechen club Terek Grozny in
Rock-bottom Maccabi Netanya (29 points) and Hapoel Ramat
Gan (30) remained in the relegation zone after their showdown on Saturday ended
in a 0-0 deadlock, but Bnei Sakhnin (32) and Hapoel Acre (32) are also still
fighting for their lives after drawing 1-1.
Yero Bello (29) gave Sakhnin
the lead, with Guy Dayan (43) equalizing for Acre.
Hapoel Haifa (35) has
still got some work to do before it guarantees its survival after losing 1-0 at
Ashdod SC on Saturday. Michael Siroshtein scored the only goal of the match two
minutes from the break.