Beitar Jerusalem’s Lidor Cohen.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
The battle for fourth place and Europa League qualification for next season remained extremely tight on Sunday, with Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa drawing 1-1 at Teddy Stadium.
The draw leaves Haifa in fourth position, ahead of Beitar only on goal difference, with both teams having three more matches to play until the end of the season.
Beitar was deducted two points by the Israel Football Association last week for the racist chants directed by its fans at Ironi Kiryat Shmona forward Ahmed Abed, a punishment it is still hoping to overturn with an appeal.
Lidor Cohen gave Beitar the lead in the 17th minute on Sunday, but Weeam Amasha netted Haifa a deserved equalizer in the 63rd minute.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv can edge closer to a third straight championship when it visits Hapoel Beersheba, which is looking to move back up to second place in the standings.
Maccabi needs five points from its remaining four matches to officially secure another league title.
Beersheba trails second-place Kiryat Shmona by three points, but will leapfrog it by virtue of its superior goal difference should it defeat the yellow-andblue on Monday.
Also Monday, Hapoel Acre can guarantee itself another season in the Premier League when it visits Maccabi Netanya in a match postponed by 48 hours due to the players’ strike at Netanya last week.
Netanya no longer has anything to play for, while Acre can cap its great escape with a fourth straight victory on Monday. Acre spent much of the season in the relegation zone, but its recent winning streak has put it in a position to secure its survival with one match to spare.