maccabi haifa 88.
(photo credit: )
An Oren Nissim equalizer in extra time forced one of the surprise results of the season on Saturday night as last place Hapoel Kfar Saba earned a 1-1 draw with reigning champ Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer in the Premier League.
The hosts dominated the game as expected, but failed to make the most of their chances and paid the price in the dying minutes of the game.
"I hope itâ€šs still not too late," a hopeful Eli Ohana, coach of Kfar Saba, told reporters after the game. "But I'm also realistic. We have to win all our remaining home games to stand a chance of surviving."
Bnei Yehuda squandered valuable points against Hapoel Petah Tikva in its race for second place, after failing to overcome a Toto Tamuz brace.
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya prevailed with relative ease in their respective games.
Luis Fernandez's Betar Jerusalem hosts struggling Maccabi Petah Tikva on Sunday night in the final Matchday 23 fixture.
The out of favor Omri Afek will be omitted from the game squad for the third straight time, although the forward sounded undisturbed with the latest development.
"That's the coach's decision and I have to respect it," he said.
In Haifa, Kfar Saba started the game in a defensive frame of mind and settled for occasional counter attacks, but the fortified defense collapsed in the 38th minute.
Shlomi Arbitman took control of the ball in midfield and set up Michael Zandberg in the area, who made no mistake and rolled the ball into the goal.
Haifa created many more chances upfront, but failed to take advantage of its superior caliber in attack. But the home fans had no idea what the visitors had in store for the reigning champion.
Ohana replaced playmaker Ben Luz with veteran striker Nissim, who knows the stadium well from his days with rival Hapoel Haifa, in the 84th minute. What looked like a meaningless substitution punctuated the game when Kfar Saba aimlessly lobbed the ball into the Haifa box on its last attack. The ball was mishandled by Haifa 'keeper Nir Davidovitch straight into the path of Nissim, who jabbed in the ball to earn his team a surprise draw.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 1, Bnei Sakhnin 0
After a disappointing first half, Dror Kashtan's reds came out in an attacking formation and the hard work paid off soon. Tel Aviv sent the ball towards Ilya Yevorian, who was tackled and lost control of the ball. Yossi Abuksis came ahead and let fly with his right foot from the edge of the box to put the hosts ahead in the 55th minute. Hapoel had many chances to increase its lead, but Elyaniv Barda left many chances begging and the games ended with a minimal home win. "Not our best game, with a very poor game from our attackers," Kashtan summarized after the game. "But I am happy that we collected all three points and distanced ourselves from Bnei Yehuda."
Bnei Yehuda 2, Hapoel Petah Tikva 2
The Oranges scored first in the 43rd minute. Roni Gafny took full advantage of a mix up in the visitors' defense and sent in a precise chip into the far corner, making it 1-0. Tamuz found the equalizer for the visitors just two minutes into the second half, after he broke the Bnei Yehuda offside trap and sent the ball into the back of the net. Tamuz was on target again in the 68th minute to score the second for Petah Tikva after a brilliant solo slalom. Bnei Yehuda retaliated within two minutes after a quick raid that was finished in style by Moshe Biton, who finally scored after missing many chances earlier in the game and earning his team a valuable point.
Maccabi Netanya 3, Ashdod SC 1
The hosts struck first in the fifth minute, when Tal Banin's free kick was headed in by the unmarked Golan Hermon to give Netanya the 1-0 lead. Netanya pushed ahead and doubled its lead in the 37th minute. Banin struck a sharp inswinging corner kick towards the far post, which was met by Ibrahim Abdul-Razek who easily glanced in the ball. Banin registered his third assist of the game, when his cross was intercepted by Abdul-Razek again, who provided the finish and completed his brace in the 64th minute. Emanuel Oviede scored for Ashdod three minutes later with a strong drive from 20 meters, which turned out to be no more than a consolation goal.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1, Upper Nazareth 1
Tel Aviv coach Ton Caanen was sent off in the 17th minute, after reportedly insulting the referee Meir Levi. But the yellow-and-blue took the lead in the 35th minute when youngster Roey Dayan blasted the ball into the goal from close range. Levi awarded Nazareth a penalty in the 77th minute and also sent off Elvin Beqiri. Eyal Berkovic received his marching orders seconds later, after fiercely protesting the controversial ruling. Avishai Zano's spot kick was stopped by Liran Strauber, but the veteran converted off the rebound to make it 1-1. Nazareth's Ami Azulai was also sent off in the 87th minute after a brutal foul on Erez Mesika.