Maccabi Tel Aviv won yet again in Israel Premier League action over the weekend as it slipped by Maccabi Haifa 1-0 to remain unbeaten with just one game left in the 2019/20 season.
Enric Saborit took advantage of a comedy of Haifa errors in front of its goal to score the lone marker of the contest to take the three points at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
“This was the fourth time we defeated Maccabi Haifa this season,” said Maccabi Tel Aviv Coach Vladimir Ivic. “This indicates that we are the better team. We had plenty of chances to score in the first half, but they also held onto the ball for a bit, though they created very few chances. The main thing is that we played as we have all season long and won a tough match.”
Haifa coach Marko Balbul commented on his team’s performance.
“I’ve said that Maccabi Tel Aviv has been very strong all season long and rightfully won the championship, but what is important for us is that we have been able to play quality soccer... and bring back the joy of our game to the fans and city.”
Meanwhile, Ironi Kiryat Shmona slipped by Sekzia Ness Ziona 1-0 to avoid relegation and send Ness Ziona down to the Leumit League.
K8 needed to win outright in order to remain in the Premier League while Lior Zada’s side looked for a win or a draw, but with the game being played in the small stadium up north Kobi Refuah’s squad had the advantage and used an Abdalla Halaihal strike to keep itself in Israel’s top league.
“This was the biggest win of my career,” said an exuberant Refuah. “We came into the game with our backs against the wall, but winners don’t get relegated. This win is dedicated to [club chairman] Izzy Sheratzky.”
Also, Beitar Jerusalem won its first Championship Playoff game as it defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 at Teddy Stadium. The victory marked the first time the yellow-and-black found the win column after eight playoffs matches and guaranteed finishing the season in third place, which allows the club to feature in Europa League qualifying.
Ori Magbo opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he took an Idan Vered cross and sent a cannonball into the Hapoel goal from 18 meters.
Antoine Conte doubled the Beitar advantage 20 minutes later with a header off a Liran Rotman corner kick and Shlomi Azulay sent a long pass from Hanan Maman by the Reds ’keeper Yoav Gerafi to convincingly take the three points.
“We played well and the players really invested in themselves and played quality soccer,” said Beitar coach Roni Levy. “There were games where we played well but weren’t able to seal the deal. I want to finish off the season as well as we can and today we guaranteed a place in Europe. I’m very happy for the guys.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba dropped Hapoel Haifa 3-1 at the Yud Alef Stadium in Ashdod. Josue gave the hosts a 1-0 lead when he put in a rebound in the 15th minute, but Jakub Sylvestr found the equalizer early on in the second half as he beat Ohad Levita from in close.
However, Josue sent a magnificent ball to Or Dadia, who made no mistake to give the Southern Reds a 2-1 lead while Ramzi Safuri added a late insurance marker to wrap up the victory for Yossi Abukasis’s side.
“This was an important win and will help our confidence ahead of our main goal, the State Cup final,” explained Abukasis. “We want to play as well as we can, but we also had to rotate players. We struggled in the playoffs, but I hope that this win will help us as we head inch closer to the final.”
Bnei Yehuda smashed Hapoel Ra’anana 4-0 as Dor Jan scored a hat-trick while Shay Mazor also found the back of the net to help his side record the win.
Hapoel Kfar Saba ended the season on a high note with a 1-0 win over Maccabi Netanya thanks to a Luwagga Kizito tally.
Ashdod SC beat Hapoel Hadera 3-1 as Shlomi Azulay, Sagiv Yehezkel and Idan Dahan scored for the Port City squad. Roie Zikri had Hadera’s lone marker in defeat.