Kiryat Shmona takes another step towards title

Northerners’ dramatic 1-0 win, coupled with Hap TA draw, extends lead to 14 with 10 games left.

February 26, 2012 06:13
3 minute read.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona's David Solari

Ironi Kiryat Shmona's David Solari 390. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)


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In case it hadn’t done so already, Ironi Kiryat Shmona can begin to cool the champagne.

David Solari’s stunning strike in the 93rd minute gave the northerners a 1-0 home victory over Bnei Yehuda on Saturday, increasing their lead at the top of the Premier League standings to 14 points after Hapoel Tel Aviv only managed a 1-1 draw with Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.

Kiryat Shmona rarely threatened in a poor first half and surely thought it wasn’t its day after Shimon Abu Hazeira’s thunderous effort in the 84th minute was denied by Bnei Yehuda goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba with one of the saves of the season.

However, with the final whistle only seconds away and his mother just entering the stadium after a long trip from Argentina, Solari released an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area after cutting in from the left flank, sparking delirium on the Kiryat Shmona bench. "This was the championship- clinching goal,” said beaming Kiryat Shmona owner Izzy Sheratzky after seeing his side keep its 18th clean sheet of the season on its way to its 13th win in its past 16 matches, extending its unbeaten streak to 25 games.

"I was really scared of this match,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon, doing his best to maintain his composure among his celebrating players.

"I knew this would be a very tricky match as Bnei Yehuda is a good team and we had a complicated week after the callup of five of our players to the Israel squad.

"I didn’t like a lot of the things I saw on the pitch tonight, but you need to know how to win these types of matches and we did so in the end thanks to a great goal by a great player.” Hapoel Tel Aviv lost further ground on Kiryat Shmona after another poor performance on Saturday.

Tomer Swisa slotted in the opener for Ramat Hasharon at National Stadium in Ramat Gan three minutes from the break, but Mirko Oremus at least ensured that Tel Aviv didn’t drop to its sixth defeat of the season with a 94th-minute equalizer.

Hapoel will have to show a significant improvement to get the better of Maccabi Tel Aviv in the derby next week, with the yellow-and-blue winning for the first time in six matches on Saturday, beating Hapoel Acre 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.

Eliran Atar tucked in the opener in the 62nd minute and set-up the second goal of the night for Roei Kehet in the 90th.

While the title race is all but over, the battle against relegation is white hot.

Hapoel Beersheba climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Betar Jerusalem on Saturday, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 on the road.

Tal Ben-Haim gave the hosts the lead (26) with a splendid solo effort, but Ido Eksbard equalized 13 minutes later before netting the winner five minutes from time.

Beersheba improved to 26 points, moving up to 12th place, one point above both Betar, which visits Maccabi Haifa on Sunday, and Hapoel Haifa, which goes to Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.

Beersheba’s victory also seriously complicated Petah Tikva’s situation, with Moshe Sinai’s team only three points above the relegation zone after losing three straight encounters.

The bottom two have also yet to lose hope of survival, with Maccabi Rishon Lezion picking up a point with a 0-0 draw against Maccabi Netanya on Saturday and Hapoel Petah Tikva drawing 1-1 at Ashdod SC.

Nir Biton (26) put Ashdod in front, but Uri Cohen equalized in the 55th minute for rock-bottom Petah Tikva, which is unbeaten in its past four matches.

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