Kiryat Shmona’s Adrian Rochet.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona dropped two important points in the Premier League title race on Sunday night, drawing 1-1 with Bnei Sakhnin to remain in second place in the standings, one point behind Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Kiryat Shmona led the league for much of the past three months, but dropped to its first defeat of the season at Maccabi Petah Tikva two weeks ago and was leapfrogged by two-time defending champion Maccabi after it beat Ashdod SC 1-0 on Saturday.
Kiryat Shmona required a win to return to the summit and David Manga gave the hosts the lead in the 18th minute.
However, Adrian Rochet was sent off after being shown his second yellow card three minutes from the halftime break and Itzik Cohen leveled the score for Sakhnin in the 61st minute, before the visitors also found themselves with 10 men following Muhammed Zbidat’s sending off two minutes later.
“I’m disappointed. We played a really good first half and should have led by a greater margin,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar.
“However, I feel that the team is getting back to its best form and I believe that if we continue like this we will return to first place.”
On Monday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Beitar Jerusalem.
Also Sunday, Eli Cohen held his first training session as the coach of Hapoel Tel Aviv. However, there is still no end in sight to the turmoil at the club.
Owner Haim Ramon held a press conference on Sunday to explain his side of the story before former manager Eyal Berkovic, who resigned last week, replied in characteristic fashion.
Ramon defended his running of the club, explaining that it was Berkovic who walked out on Hapoel and that there was no other option but to sack coach Asi Domb on Saturday, with the team winning just one of its past 10 Premier League matches.
Berkovic, who decided to leave after not being allowed to fire Domb without the consent of the club’s owners, said that he saved the club from ruin, but that the owners embarrassed him in the media. When asked whether there is a chance he would return to Hapoel Berkovic said: “I will buy the club.”