Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Sagiv Yehezkel (left) celebrates with Moshe Ohayon..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv took a significant step towards putting its nightmare season behind it and securing its Premier League survival on Saturday, while Maccabi Netanya’s run in the top flight officially came to an end with another defeat.
Nemanja Nikolic’s stunning winner from 25 meters out in the 83rd minute gave Hapoel a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Acre at Bloomfield Stadium, moving the reds eight points clear of the relegation zone with five matches to play.
“There is no reason to celebrate at Hapoel this season and we just need to realize our goal and stay up,” said Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman.
Netanya’s relegation to the National League has been a foregone conclusion for several weeks, but it became official on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Itzik Cohen missed a penalty for the sorry Netanya in the 49th minute before Or Ostvind (65) and Omer Tzalisher (92) secured the win for Kiryat Shmona, which opened a six-point gap over Hapoel Haifa in the relegation zone.
Haifa (25 points) hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba (29) on Sunday.
Kiryat Shmona registered its first win under coach Shlomi Dora, scoring for the first time in seven matches. Kiryat Shmona had become accustomed to challenging for titles, winning four trophies in the past six years, including an historic Premier League championship in 2011/12, while going on a five-year run of finishing no lower than fifth in the league standings.
Netanya is in complete disarray and its prospects in the second divison are also looking bleak at the moment. Head coach Menahem Koretzki followed in the footsteps of chairman Doron Osidon and left the club last Saturday, writing to the Netanya Municipality, which is in charge of the running of the club following Osidon’s resignation last week, that due to the current uncertainty he has decided to quit. Koretzki only joined the team two months ago, picking up just one of a possible 24 points after losing seven matches and registering one draw, leaving Netanya 17 points from safety.
Maccabi Petah Tikva joined Bnei Yehuda 11 points clear of the bottom two with a 2-1 win over the latter on Saturday.
Rade Prica scored Petah Tikva’s winner in the 43rd minute after Almog Buzaglo (31) had canceled out Mohammed Kalibat’s (8) opener.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Haifa and Bnei Sakhnin drew 3-3 at Haifa Stadium.
Haifa took the lead through an Abraham Paz own goal in the seventh minute before Shlomi Azulay’s brace (42, 66) turned the match on its head.
Haifa then regained the lead through Glynor Plet (77) and Eliran Atar (80), only for Georginho to rescue a point for the visitors seven minutes from time.
The battle for the title resumes on Sunday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is one point back of Hapoel Beesheba, hosting Hapoel Ra’anana.
Beersheba visits Beitar Jerusalem on Monday.