Mac Haifa’s title celebration delayed by loss

Hap Beersheba blanks Greens • Mac TA tops Netanya • Hapoel Jerusalem joins Beitar in safety zone

HAPOEL JERUSALEM fans celebrate at Teddy Stadium after the club’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva ensured Premier League survival. (photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM fans celebrate at Teddy Stadium after the club’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva ensured Premier League survival.
(photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)

Hapoel Beersheba slipped by 10-man Maccabi Haifa 1-0 over the weekend to keep the Greens’ Israeli league championship celebrations on ice at Turner Stadium.

Muhammed Abu Fani was issued a second yellow card early on in the second half to hand the hosts a man advantage for the balance of the game, which Beersheba took full advantage of as Eitan Tibi headed home the 80th minute winner off a free kick to take the three points.

“We focused just on ourselves and not on the opponent,” said Hapoel Beersheba coach Elyaniv Barda. “We came into this game after two bad away results and it was important that we played well at home. Although the percentages are against us to stay in the title hunt, we will do our maximum.”

“We hoped that the game would finish differently than the way it did,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar stated. “I also hoped that we would play better and we justifiably lost this game. There’s not much more to say as we wanted to finish the championship off properly. We started off well, but then we just completely disappeared.”

Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Maccabi Netanya 2-1 thanks to a pair of second-half goals to take the win.

 HAPOEL JERUSALEM players celebrate at Teddy Stadium after the club’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva ensured Premier League survival. (credit: BERNEY ARDOV) HAPOEL JERUSALEM players celebrate at Teddy Stadium after the club’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva ensured Premier League survival. (credit: BERNEY ARDOV)

After a scoreless first half, Stipe Perica opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 55th minute, but Igor Zlatanovic took an Aviv Avraham pass to draw the visitors even at 1-1.

However, starlet Oscar Gloch latched onto a Andre Geraldes through-ball and beat Dani Amos in the 87th minute to earn the points.

“We prepared very well for this game as Maccabi Netanya is a very good team,” Maccabi bench boss Mladen Krstajic said. “They are extremely aggressive and also balanced. During the first half our strikers were too far apart from one another, and we lost many balls. We were better in the second half, but gave up an easy goal. We will try to do our best in the remaining games.”

“This was the type of soccer that we wanted to play and while it’s painful to lose the game was played at a very good pace,” noted Netanya coach Benny Lam. “Tel Aviv was better than us and deserved to win, but the game was a real championship playoff battle. We were missing the finishing touch at times. but we were in the game the entire time.”

In the capital city, Hapoel Jerusalem blanked Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 as William Agada’s first-half goal handed the host Reds the win to ensure their top-division survival and sent the visitors down a division to the Leumit League with the loss.

“I’ve tried to keep my passion inside of me, but now I can scream in delight,” Jerusalem coach Ziv Arie said after his club ensured that it will play in the Premier League next season. “We began the season with a small dream as we tried not to get into the situation that we found ourselves in all season long, which was trying to survive, but that’s what we did.”

“I don’t know where to begin,” Petah Tikva coach Omer Golan began. “I’ve been a part of the club for many years and we’ve been relegated before, but this one hurts even more as I am at the front. I have a tremendous amount of responsibility and we deserve to go down a league, but we have to take a very good look as to why this occurred.”

Up north, Ironi Kiryat Shmona defeated Hapoel Nof Hagalil 2-0 thanks to a brace by Itamar Shviro to relegate the visitors to the Leumit League.

Nadav Nidam fed Shviro for his first of two strikes in the first half, while Muhammad Shaker assisted on his second to hand the hosts the win.

“I don’t feel very good right now,” said disappointed Nof Hagalil coach Shay Barda. “I took on a challenge and it’s not pleasant to fail as I wanted things to finish differently. I tried to do everything to keep the club up in the top league, but I wasn’t able to do so.”

“I feel awful having relegated Shay Barda,” explained Kiryat Shmona bench boss Slobodan Drapic. “I said that we would finish the relegation playoffs in first place and that is what we did.”

Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem mounted a comeback to defeat Hapoel Hadera 2-1 as the capital city squad scored a pair of second-half goals to take the three points.

Maxim Plakuschenko opened the scoring with a phenomenal scorcher in the 37th minute to give Hadera a 1-0 lead. However, Gleofilo Hasselbaink found the equalizer in the 66th minute and Tamir Adi scored the winner a quarter-hour later to give Beitar the win.

“I told the players that despite the season coming to an end that we still had to play hard and play to win,” Beitar coach Yossi Abukasis said. “We could have scored a pair of goals in the first half as we played excellently, but we gave up a goal. At the break, I told the guys to keep playing as they had and that everything would be fine, which is exactly what happened.”

“We gave away a pair of goals on mistakes,” Hadera coach Menachem Koretzky explained. “I didn’t enjoy the result, but the guys played hard and wanted to win. It was great to see so many of our young players get some time on the pitch.”

Also, Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Tel Aviv played to a dry goalless draw to split the points at Doha Stadium.

“We were better for the majority of the game,” Hapoel coach Kobi Refuah commented. “It was very difficult to create chances, but we tried to do so. We want to get back onto the winning track and we will try to take fourth place as we’ll play to the end as hard as we can.”

“This wasn’t one of our better games,” Sakhnin coach Haim Silvas began. “We lost a ton of balls but we battled. Both teams didn’t play well enough, but this is a tough playoff. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t give our fans a win.”