Betar will have to fight for PL life

Jerusalem finally wins on the road, but Hap BS leapfrogs into 10th on total goals scored.

betar jerusalem (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
betar jerusalem
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Despite claiming its first road victory in almost three months on Saturday, beating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0, Betar Jerusalem will have to battle against relegation until the end of the Premier League season after Hapoel Beersheba stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Betar entered the final weekend of the regular season in the much sought-after 10th place in the standings and surely believed that a win in Kiryat Shmona would be enough to guarantee it a place in the mid-table playoffs rather than fighting demotion to the National League with the bottom six teams.
A fourth-minute goal by Kobi Moyal, his second in two weeks, gave Jerusalem all three points up North, but David Revivo’s 86th minute penalty at Bloomfield meant that Beersheba leapfrogged Betar in the standings by virtue of scoring more goals.
Both Betar and Beersheba have a -2 goal difference, but while Jerusalem has scored 30 goals this season, Beersheba has netted 36 and therefore finished in 10th position.
“We played well, but we missed opportunities that could have put us in the mid-table playoffs,” Moyal said.
“We thought a win or even a draw would be enough to finish in 10th position, but apparently not. We didn’t know what the score was in Beersheba’s match and maybe if we did we would have placed more pressure on Kiryat Shmona. We didn’t want to find ourselves in the relegation playoffs because that isn’t where Betar should be.”
Beersheba had lost six of its previous eight matches entering Saturday’s encounter against the yellow-and-blue and looked to be in complete disarray in recent weeks.
However, Maccabi was totally shambolic once more on Saturday, falling to its fourth defeat in five games.
Beersheba took the lead in the ninth minute through Oded Gavish’s header, but was in trouble in the 55th minute after Ofer Davidzade fouled Eliran Atar and was sent off.
However, Tel Aviv created little to nothing despite having an extra man and Beersheba would score the precious goal four minutes from time.
Maccabi goalkeeper Liran Strauber continued his dismal run of form when he fouled Ibrahim Bassit and Revivo stepped up to score the penalty that secured Beersheba another season of Premier League soccer.
“This is a tough defeat, but the score should have been different,” said Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir, who started the match without any of his foreign players.
“The fans have a right to call for my resignation. The supporters love the team and are justifiably upset after defeats.”
Beersheba coach Nir Klinger was surprisingly disgruntled after Saturday’s drama.
“We are very disappointed,” said the former Maccabi coach despite seeing his team climb to 10th place. “It might be good news that we avoided the relegation playoffs, but personally I’m disappointed that I failed to guide the team to the championship playoffs.”
While Beersheba will play three more matches to round off its season in the mid-table playoffs, Betar will see its 12- point gap over Hapoel Ashkelon in 14th place, which leads to a relegation tie against a team from the National League, halved to six points ahead of its final five matches of the season, starting with a home game against Hapoel Ramat Gan next week.
Hapoel Tel Aviv will trail Maccabi Haifa by no more than three points entering the championship playoffs after edging Ramat Gan 2-1 at Winter Stadium on Saturday.
Tel Aviv needed just 34 seconds to take the lead after Eran Zahavi’s shot smacked off Ben Sahar and rolled into Ramat Gan’s goal.
However, the reigning-champion was far from its best yet again on Saturday and only barely got all three points against rock-bottom Ramat Gan.
Defender Walid Badier doubled Tel Aviv’s lead in the 59th minute, but Yakir Shina got a goal back for the hosts five minutes later and the Reds had to come through some nervous moments before clinching the win.
“In our situation all we care about is winning,” said Gutman, who knows his team will have to play much better in the playoffs to have any chance of overtaking Haifa and claiming a second straight championship.
“We needed this win to hopefully get back on track in the playoffs. I see what everyone else is seeing and I’m the one who will need to find a solution.”
Maccabi Haifa visits Maccabi Netanya on Sunday, with a victory to give it a three-point gap entering the playoffs.
Any other result will see its lead sliced to just two points.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Petah Tikva visits Bnei Yehuda, needing a win to have a chance of clinching a place in the topsix.
Hapoel Haifa climbed to sixth place on Saturday with a 3-2 win over Hapoel Petah Tikva at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Guy Dayan gave Petah Tikva the lead in the 26th minute, but Eden Ben-Basat (35) and Amir Abu-Nil (63) turned the match on its head, only for Guy Tzarfati to equalize (83).
However, Hanan Maman scored the winner for the hosts in the 88th minute to move Haifa into the top-six at least for 24 hours.
Ashkelon thrashed Ashdod SC 4-1 on Saturday, with Snir Gueta (51), Mahmoud Abbas (55, 89) and Ravid Gazal (86) scoring for the hosts and Dimitar Makriev (62) netting for the losers.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Acre drew 0-0 with Bnei Sakhnin.