Hen Azriel (left) and Hapoel Haifa’s Oshri Roash_370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa’s hopes of defending its Premier League title may long be dead,
but it at least showed the pride of a reigning champion on Saturday night,
equalizing in the third minute of stoppage time to draw 1-1 in the derby against
Hapoel Haifa, costing its arch-rival two precious points in its battle against
Yuval Avidor gave Hapoel the lead with an excellent finish in
the 75th minute of a largely uneventful match, but the hosts couldn’t hold on at
Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, with Danijel Cesarec tying the score in the 93rd
“We weren’t smart enough at the end of the match and it cost us
dearly,” said Hapoel Haifa coach Tal Banin, whose team remains just two points
off the relegation zone.
“I hope these points we lost don’t end up
costing us our place in the top flight.”
Hapoel Beersheba brought some
cheer to the bombarded city on Saturday, beating Hapoel Rishon Lezion 2-1 to
climb out of the relegation zone ahead of the splitting of the league into two
sections next weekend, with each side to play one more time against the teams in
Beersheba players were given an extra workout last week when
rocket fire from Gaza forced them to run for cover during several of their
The southerners also entered Saturday’s encounter on
the back of last week’s 5-1 thumping at the hands of Bnei Yehuda, but they still
managed to find the strength to record a crucial home win against a fellow
Moshe Ben-Lulu gave Rishon the lead after 20 minutes, but
Siraj Naser (27) and Diya Saba (65) turned the match on its head and Beersheba
climbed from 14th place to 12th.
“I believed we would stay in the league
when our situation was much worse a few months ago and now we are playing much
better,” Beersheba coach Guy Levy said.
“If we continue to believe in
ourselves we will stay up.”
Beersheba moved out of the bottom three at
the expense of Maccabi Petah Tikva, which could only manage a 0-0 draw at Hapoel
Acre, failing to win for a sixth straight match.
Betar Jerusalem can move
five points clear of Petah Tikva and the relegation zone on Monday with a home
victory against Bnei Yehuda.
A win will take Betar within three points of
Ramat Hasharon in 10th place after it was held to a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Petah
Tikva on Saturday.
Yaniv Luzon gave Petah Tikva the lead from the penalty
spot in the 36th minute before Baruch Dego equalized for Ramat Hasharon five
The battle for European qualification got even tighter on
Saturday, with just one point now separating Hapoel Tel Aviv in second place and
Maccabi Netanya in fifth.
Netanya thrashed Maccabi Tel Aviv 3- 0 on
Saturday, courtesy of goals from Ahmed Saba (48, 64), who took his total for the
season to a league best 18, and Firas Mugrabi (86).
Netanya is two points
ahead of Maccabi Haifa and three in front of Maccabi Tel Aviv, who could both
drop in the table depending on Monday’s result between Bnei Yehuda and
Bnei Sakhnin and Ashdod SC remained tied on points in third and
fourth places, respectively, after playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw on
Idan Shriki scored the opener for the hosts in the 22nd minute
before Sakhnin’s Khaled Khalaila equalized from the penalty spot a minute from
Kostadin Hazurov (56) put Sakhnin in front and the visitors
were in control after Maharan Radi (66) scored from the rebound of his missed
Substitute Ben-Zion Moshiashvili handed Ashdod a life line in
the 83rd minute and Amir Lavi ensured the points would be shared with a
successful penalty in the third minute of stoppage time.
Shmona visits Hapoel Tel Aviv in a showdown between the top two on Sunday. Only
women and children under the age of 14 will be able to enter the match at
Bloomfield Stadium after the Israel Football Association’s High Court partially
accepted Hapoel’s appeal for the punishment it was handed for the violence
displayed by its supporters after the derby encounter against Maccabi Tel Aviv.