Maccabi Petah Tikva players 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After 21 straight seasons in the top flight, Maccabi Petah Tikva was relegated
to the National League on Saturday night.
Petah Tikva needed to defeat
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon and for other results to go its way to maintain its
Premier League status, but it could only manage a 0-0 draw at the Moshava
Stadium and will join Hapoel Rishon Lezion and Hapoel Petah Tikva in the second
division next season.
Israel Football Association chairman and former
Maccabi Petah Tikva boss Avi Luzon provided another horror show to his
ever-growing repute after the final whistle, attacking the IFA High Court for
the three points it deducted Petah Tikva at the end of March.
Petah Tikva won it would have been relegated after Hapoel Beersheba got the win
it needed by beating Betar Jerusalem 3-1 at Vasermil Stadium and Hapoel Haifa
defeated Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-1.
Dovev Gabai (6) and Yossi Shivhon (15)
put Beersheba in the driving seat at Vasermil and Dan Eibinder’s (33) strike
proved to be no more than a consolation goal for Betar after Gabai reestablished
Beersheba’s two-goal cushion on the brink of halftime.
Hapoel Haifa was
in real trouble after Orel Edri gave Petah Tikva a 29th-minute lead, but two
goals from Vladimir Gluscevic in four second half minutes (50, 53) ensured Haifa
Earlier Saturday. Hapoel Tel Aviv clinched second place in the
standings and a Europa League berth with a 1-1 draw against Maccabi Haifa at
Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Yaniv Katan gave Haifa the lead from the penalty
spot in the 24th minute, but Elroei Cohen equalized for Hapoel in the 54th and
Haifa will have to beat Tel Aviv in the State Cup final on Tuesday to qualify
for continental competition.
A draw would have been enough for Haifa to
secure a place in Europe had Maccabi Netanya not scored a 94th minute winner for
a 3-2 victory against Bnei Sakhnin.
Goals from Pieter Mbemba (15) and
Idan Viezman (38) gave Sakhnin a 2-0 lead at halftime, but Mohammed Kalibat
(68), Ahmed Saba (84), who ended the season as the league’s leading scorer with
20 goals, and Omri Ben-Harush (94) completed a dramatic comeback in Netanya’s
final match at the Kofsa Stadium, which has been used by the club since
Netanya will now be crossing its fingers that Hapoel Tel Aviv beats
Haifa in the cup final as that would mean that fourth place is also good enough
to qualify for the Europa League as Tel Aviv has already booked its place by
finishing as runner-up.
Bnei Yehuda, which already secured its berth in
Europe last week, ended the season in third following a 2-1 defeat at Ashdod
Idan Shriki (7, 83) netted a brace for Ashdod, with Nenad Marinkovic
scoring for Bnei Yehuda in the 38th minute.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Tel
Aviv beat champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3-2, with Munas Dabbur (37), Eliran Atar
(41) and Dor Micha (47) scoring for the yellow-and-blue and Barak Badash (21)
and Shlomi Azulai (55) finding the back of the net for Kiryat Shmona.
battle for promotion to the Premier League will only be decided in a
winner-takes-all playoff match between Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Lod on Friday
after the regular season ended with a three-way tie for first
Ramat Gan required a dramatic comeback to hold on to first place
on goal difference, coming twice from behind to beat Hapoel Ra’anana 3-2 on the
After leading the National League standings for much of the season,
Ramat Gan’s dreams of promotion looked to be over when it found itself down 2-1
late in the match.
However, Oren Nisim equalized in the 89th minute and
Carlos Chakana capped the remarkable comeback one minute later to keep Ramat Gan
in first place.
Maccabi Herzliya held a two-goal lead over Lod entering
Friday’s matches, but its 1-0 win over Hapoel Jerusalem wasn’t enough to send it
through to the playoff, with Lod thrashing Maccabi Ahi Nazareth 6-0 to finish in
second place on goal difference and book a meeting with Ramat Gan.
Friday’s showdown will be as tense as any match in Israel this season, with
Ramat Gan and Lod to meet for the first time since last month’s mass brawl
between officials and players from both teams.