Clubs jockey as regular season winds down

Beersheba streaks on, climbs into fourth place • Maccabi Tel Aviv shuts out Ashdod • Jerusalem fading.

HAPOEL BEERSHEBA coach Barak Bachar (center) congratulates his players after the club recorded its third consecutive Premier League victory with a 2-0 result over visiting Hapoel Haifa on Monday night (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
HAPOEL BEERSHEBA coach Barak Bachar (center) congratulates his players after the club recorded its third consecutive Premier League victory with a 2-0 result over visiting Hapoel Haifa on Monday night
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba won its third game in a row by defeating Hapoel Haifa 2-0 at Turner Stadium on Monday night in Israel Premier League action. The victory moved the Beersheba into fourth place with one contest remaining in the regular season.
Maor Melikson led a quick counterattack downfield and crossed the ball to an oncoming Ben Sahar, who clinically put the ball in the Haifa goal for a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute. Hanan Maman scored on the rebound to his own missed penalty during injury time to take the tidy win.
Beersheba coach Barak Bachar was more than satisfied with his squad’s effort.
“The players took responsibility and I’m happy that they brought it to the game where they pressed, were more aggressive and attacked which is our basis of play,” he said.
In other action, Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Ashdod 2-0 in the port city thanks to a brace by Omer Atzili.
The yellow-and-blue controlled the pace of play throughout the opening 45 minutes, but active Ashdod ’keeper Yoav Gerafi miraculously kept the ball out of the goal.
However, the second half was a different story as Atzili scored a 60th minute lazer beam of a goal from the top of the box off a Dor Micha assist. Atzili then doubled the Maccabi advantage deep into stoppage time when he struck a perfect free kick from 18 meters that beat Gerafi for the victory.
“I feel good,” said Atzili following the game. “I had a few matches where I could have played better, but I’m happy that I came back today to score a brace and I hope that I’ll continue this way.”
A content Maccabi coach Vladimir Ivic praised his team.
“The players did as we had planned from the first moment until the last and we had concrete chances on the attack and controlled the pace of play. We played a good game and we deserved the victory,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Haifa recorded a 2-0 win over Bnei Sakhin as up-and-coming star Yarden Shua made his first start with the Greens and picked up an assist on the first goal along with drawing a penalty as well.
Shua flicked a Kerim Frei corner kick to Georges Mandjek, who found the back of the goal for a 1-0 lead Haifa in the 28th minute. Twelve minutes later, Shua was pulled down in the box as Haifa was awarded a penalty kick that Nikita Rukaytsya missed.
But in the 78th minute, Rukaytsya made good on his miscue when he put home a Shon Weissman rebound to wrap up the win.
Beitar Jerusalem’s Championship Playoff hopes dimmed with a 3-1 loss to Maccabi Netanya.
Idan Vered gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute off a Gadi Kinda cross to give Nir Klinger’s side hope, but Stav Finish drew the hosts even just nine minutes later as Gavriel Kanichowsky picked up the assist.
Kanichowsky again was at the center of attention in the 38th minute when he sent a beauty of a ball to Yonas Malede, who was pulled down in the box for a clear penalty that Fatos Beciraj converted for a 2-1 advantage.
Netanya’s Aviv Avraham finished Beitar off in the 90th minute with an easy goal to send Jerusalem scrambling ahead of its final regular-season match against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Also, Hapoel Tel Aviv demolished Maccabi Petah Tikva 6-0 at the Moshava Stadium. In a game that featured two teams looking to avoid relegation, only one came to play as the Reds took apart Guy Luzon’s club.
Hapoel grabbed the lead in the 11th minute when Anton Bratkov was pulled down in the box by Edi Gotlieb, good for a penalty that Claudemir duly converted.
Roie Zikri doubled the Reds’ advantage in the 29th minute as he headed home an Idan Cohen cross, while Ramzi Sfuri scored a fabulous goal five minutes into the second half.
Caio found the back of the goal in the 58th minute, Ahmed Abed added Kobi Refuah’s squad’s fifth marker and Shahar Hirsch slotted home a 92nd-minute spot kick to stun Petah Tikva and secure the blowout victory.
Elsewhere, Ironi Kiryat Shmona surprised Bnei Yehuda 1-0 at the Moshava Stadium to win for the first time in five tries and keep its slim Championship Playoff hopes alive.
Eden Shamir’s 10th-minute goal, thanks to an Ismaeel Ryan assist, handed the northern-most club the three points.
Hapoel Ra’anana got by Hapoel Hadera 1-0 at the Ramat Gan Stadium.
Kayes Ganem put home a rebound off an Or Dasa attempt as Menachem Koretzky’s side took the three points and the win.
Hadera will have its Championship Playoff destiny in its own hands heading into the final regular-season contest, in which it will go toe-to-toe with Maccabi Netanya.