Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Vidar Orn Kjartansson (in yellow) netted his team’s opener in last night’s 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa at Haifa Stadium..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
After seeing Hapoel Beersheba celebrate a second straight Premier League championship at its expense last weekend, Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to winning ways on Sunday, beating Maccabi Haifa 2-0 on the road.
Vidar Orn Kjartansson took his league-leading tally to 19 goals with a fourth-minute strike. Avi Rikan’s goal five minutes from the break wrapped up the win for the yellow-and-blue.
Tel Aviv will finish the season in second place regardless of its results in the remaining two league games, with its main focus being the State Cup final against Bnei Yehuda later this month.
Haifa lost any hope of finishing in fourth place and qualifying for European competition with Sunday’s loss.
In other news, Hapoel Beersheba’s Portuguese defender Miguel Vitor was named on Sunday as the Premier League’s player of the season. Vitor only played in 19 league matches due to injury, but Beersheba picked up 52 of a possible 57 points in those games.
While he was injured, Beersheba saw an 11-point gap reduced to just three, with his return coinciding with the club record 10-match winning streak which saw the margin return to 11 points with last weekend’s title-clinching 2-1 victory at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Beersheba will receive the championship shield after Monday’s clash with Maccabi Petah Tikva at Turner Stadium.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Ra’anana unveiled Dudu Avraham as its new head coach on Sunday. Avraham replaces Haim Silvas who will be joining Ironi Kiryat Shmona after three seasons in Ra’anana. Silvas led Ra’anana to a 10th-place finish in his first season in charge before guiding the team to an impressive sixth place last term.
Ra’anana is currently in 10th place entering its final match of the campaign against Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Menahem Koretzki did his best to lift his players in Sunday’s training session after Saturday’s dejecting goalless deadlock against Ashkelon and the violent scenes which followed.
Hapoel will enter the final weekend of the season no longer in control of its fate in the battle against relegation after remaining one point back of Ashkelon following the 0-0 draw between the two in Petah Tikva.
The ill-tempered match boiled over after the final whistle, with a brawl between players and staff from Hapoel and police breaking out on the pitch. Hapoel striker Toto Tamuz was led off the pitch in handcuffs after clashing with police and security guards. Hapoel defender Orel Dgani, who was sitting in the stands after his season was cut short through injury, rushed to the scene and joined the melee, while Hapoel’s physiotherapist Rami Ingel suffered several blows to the face trying to break up the fracas.
A home win for Ashkelon against Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday will send Hapoel Tel Aviv to the National League for the first time since 1990. Hapoel visits Ra’anana and will survive should it win and Ashkelon fail to do so. Tel Aviv will also stay up should it register a draw, Ashkelon lose and Hapoel Kfar Saba not defeat Hapoel Haifa.
Koretzki will spend much of the week trying to instill belief in his players, while in the meantime the club is waiting to hear from police if it plans to press charges against Tamuz and Dgani.