Battle against demotion continues to heat up

Acre, Kiryat Shmona and Hap Haifa kept apart by a single point; Hap TA secures top-flight status.

May 1, 2016 06:47
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Ovidiu Hoban (center) scores past Maccabi Tel Aviv goalkeeper Predrag Ra

Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Ovidiu Hoban (center) scores past Maccabi Tel Aviv goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic to cancel out Carlos Garcia’s (left) opener for the yellow-and-blue in last night’s 1-1 draw at Turner Stadium.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Only one point separates three teams in the fight against relegation from the Premier League after a tumultuous day of action on Saturday.

Hapoel Acre remained in the relegation zone following a 3-1 defeat against Maccabi Petah Tikva. Ironi Kiryat Shmona has also only got 32 points after suffering a 2-1 loss at Hapoel Kfar Saba, but sits ahead of Acre thanks to its superior goal difference (-8 compared to -21).

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Hapoel Haifa is just one point further in front after coming back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium.

Hapoel Tel Aviv officially secured its survival with the draw.

The team that will join Maccabi Netanya in demotion to the National League could well be decided in the showdown between Acre and Kiryat Shmona in the final week of the season, although each side has one more match to play beforehand.

Acre suffered its fourth straight loss on Saturday, capitulating against a team that had already secured its survival. Mohammed Kalibat (7) and Guy Melamed (10) put Petah Tikva in the driving seat, and Acre couldn’t build on Dylan Seys’s (24) strike, with Giddy Kanyuk reestablishing a two-goal cushion in the 45th minute.

Both teams ended the match with 10 men, with Petah Tikva losing Joachim Mununga to a red card in the 72nd minute and Acre’s Boris Kopitovic being sent off eight minutes later.

Acre visits Hapoel Kfar Saba next week.

Yiannis Papadopoulos (65) and Omer Fadida (79) scored for Kfar Saba at Levita Stadium on Saturday, with Kfar Saba goalkeeper Ohad Cohen being sent off in stoppage time before Ofir Mizrahi netted a consolation goal for Kiryat Shmona. Kfar Saba moved four points clear of the bottom two with six points left to play for.

Kiryat Shmona, which has won only one of its past 11 games, hosts Hapoel Haifa next week.

Haifa claimed a point at Bloomfield despite falling behind time and again.

Aaron Schoenfeld (11) and Sagiv Yehezkel (42) gave the hosts a 2-0 lead, but goals by Shlomi Arbeitman (45) and Maxim Plakuschenko (49) leveled the score.

Yehezkel put Tel Aviv back in front in the 53rd minute, only for Arbeitman to score three minutes later to cap the goal-fest.

“This is a very important point for us,” said Haifa coach Eli Cohen, whose team hosts Bnei Yehuda after visiting Kiryat Shmona. “We came here to take three points but the players deserve credit for taking one. This battle will go down to the wire and I believe we will stay up.”

In other action, Maccabi Haifa moved up to fourth place after beating Hapoel Ra’anana 2-0 thanks to a Hen Ezra brace (25, 62). Ezra also missed a penalty in the 45th minute. Haifa opened a three-point gap over Bnei Sakhnin, which visits Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday. A fourth-place finish for Haifa will ensure it qualifies for the Europa League next season even should it lose to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup final later this month.

On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Beersheba at Bloomfield in a showdown between the top two.

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