Hap can still dream after drawing with Mac

Tel Aviv derby ends 2-2 after Sahar saves Hapoel late; Haifa can clinch Monday vs KS.

Toto Tamuz 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Toto Tamuz 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
A 91st minute header by Ben Sahar gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a 2-2 draw against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday night, keeping the reigning champion’s title hopes alive at least until Monday night.
Hapoel took a fourth-minute lead through a Bevan Fransman header and squandered countless chances in the second half before two goals by Maccabi substitute Roberto Colautti within five minutes (71, 76) turned the match on its head, only for Sahar to come to the Reds’ rescue in stoppage time.
Sahar’s 16th league goal of the season may have kept the championship shield in Tel Aviv for the time being, but Maccabi Haifa now needs just one point from its remaining two matches to clinch a seventh league title in 11 years and will be confident of getting its hands on the silverware on Monday when it hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
“The match unfolded exactly as we envisioned but we didn’t make the most of our chances when we had a 1-0 lead and paid the price,” Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said. “I’m proud of my players for never giving up.
As far as I’m concerned this has been a wonderful season even though we might not win the championship.”
Sahar’s goal denied the yellow-andblue its first league derby win since March 2008, with Hapoel winning five and drawing four of the nine encounters played since.
“This was an excellent match and we played very well in the first half even though we were trailing at the break,” Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir said. “We held on at 1-0 thanks to goalkeeper Liran Strauber and we recorded a comeback, but we couldn’t claim the victory and that hurts.”
Bnei Yehuda took a significant step towards securing a Europa League berth for next season on Saturday, thrashing Maccabi Netanya 4-0 on the road to leapfrog into fourth place in the standings.
Dror Kashtan’s men tore apart Netanya with goals from Aviv Hadad (13), Shalev Menashe (20), Nenad Marinkovic (51) and Pedro Galvan (91), handing Reuven Atar’s side its first league defeat in 14 matches.
Bnei Yehuda needs one point from its final match against Maccabi Haifa to clinch fourth position, with Netanya, which visits Maccabi Tel Aviv next week, three points and five goals back in fifth place.
The battle against relegation will come down to the final Saturday of the season, with one point separating three teams.
A 90th minute goal by Shay Biruk gave Hapoel Ashkelon a 1-0 win against Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium on Saturday, moving it tied on points with Hapoel Petah Tikva, which could only manage a 1-1 home draw with Ashdod SC.
Moshe Ohayon scored the opener for Ashdod in the 23rd minute after missing a penalty, but Ido Aksebrad equalized for Petah Tikva four minutes from time to keep Gili Landau’s team out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Bnei Sakhnin climbed above Petah Tikva into 13th place on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Hapoel Ramat Gan, with Kostadin Hazurov (12) and Hamad Ganayem (53) scoring for the winners and Zion Zemah (80) netting a consolation goal for Ramat Gan.
Sakhnin can secure itself another season of top-flight soccer with a home win over Betar Jerusalem next week, while Ashkelon hosts Petah Tikva in a direct showdown for a place in the Premier League.