Maccabi Haifa clinches title

Hapoel Tel Aviv only manage a draw with Ashdod; Betar batter Maccabi Netanya.

maccabi haifa 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
maccabi haifa 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Maccabi Haifa clinched a third straight Premier League championship without even playing its Matchday 30 fixture. Hapoel Tel Aviv's draw with Ashdod SC at Bloomfied Stadium on Saturday secured a domestic double for Roni Levy's team. Hapoel TA needed a victory to push off Maccabi Haifa's celebration for at least one more week, but succumbed to another late goal by a visiting team. No matter what happens Sunday night when Mac Haifa hosts Upper Nazareth, Hapoel TA will be at least 10 points behind the greens with just three games left in the season. Maccabi Haifa will be celebrating its fourth championship in five years against Upper Nazareth, which will be without the injured Oren Zeituni and star forward Itai Shekhter, who is suspended after collecting five yellow cards. Hapoel Kfar Saba has temporarily escaped the relegation zone after managing a draw with Maccabi Petah Tikva in a tense and dramatic game. Eli Ohana's team will stay in 10th place if Upper Nazareth loses. In another Matchday 30 game over the weekend, Betar Jerusalem produced a convincing performance without the suspended Jerome Leroy and Igor Mitresky, thrashing Reuven Atar's Maccabi Netanya at Teddy Stadium on Saturday. Bnei Yehuda beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 after four straight losses thanks to an 83rd-minute Asi Baldut winner. On Friday, Hapoel Petah Tikva, powered by an Omer Buksenboim brace, defeated Bnei Sakhnin 4-1 at Doha Stadium. Hapoel Tel Aviv 1, Ashdod SC 1 Only 4,000 fans made their presence felt at Bloomfield Stadium, and they witnessed a poor first half that produced a lone goal in its final minute. Yigal Antebi made a swift run on the left flank and crossed the ball into the area, which the Ashdod defense failed to clear. Ilya Yevorian diverted the ball into the goal. Ashdod improved its performance in the second half when veteran striker Shai Holtzman was inserted into the game. The visitors struck late, as David Revivo came ahead in the 90th minute and navigated his team's last attack of the game. Tel Aviv's defense was unable to contain Idan Shriki, who fired the ball in from the edge of the penalty box and scored a dramatic equalizer that gave Maccabi Haifa the championship. Betar Jerusalem 4,Maccabi Netanya 0 Gal Alberman, David Aganzo, Aviram Bruchian and Yoav Ziv scored for Betar, which controlled the entire match. Betar remains in third place, but just one point behind Hapoel Tel Aviv. "When you play that quality of football for 90 minutes, you expect a result like 4-0," Betar coach Guy Azuri told The Jerusalem Post. "We will do everything we can to take second place." The win was especially sweet for Spanish striker Aganzo, who has found it difficult to find the net in recent games. Alberman, who only came back from injury in the previous match, looked sharp throughout, controlling the midfield in the absence of Leroy. He dedicated the goal to a friend's mother who was killed in last week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Betar went up 1-0 after 36 minutes when Alberman headed in a free kick floated in by Frenchman Fabrice Fernandes. The second came a minute before halftime when Aganzo scored from close range from a Bruchian corner. In the second half, Betar put the game out of reach with Bruchian's 59th-minute strike from outside the area that left Netanya 'keeper Nir Gal no chance. Ziv put the icing on the cake with a delicate chip inside the area on 75. Hapoel Kfar Saba 2,Maccabi Petah Tikva 2 Kfar Saba came out in an attacking formation and made Petah Tikva pay in the 30th minute, when Abu Bakri took control of the ball and let fly from 20 meters to give his team the lead. Samuel Yeboah doubled the hosts' lead just eight minutes later after slipping past the "Luzons'" defense and tapping the ball past Ohad Cohen. Kfar Saba had more chances to score in the second half, but failed to take advantage and increase its lead. Petah Tikva reduced the deficit to one goal in the 58th minute when Patrick Suffo sent in a low shot from an acute angle. Just when it looked like Kfar Saba would register another win, the visitors struck again in the 88th minute. Salim Toema struck a corner and found Rubel Sarsour, who headed in the equalizer. "I am very disappointed with this result," Ohana said. "Petah Tikva played well in the second half, but our missed chances were the reason we failed to collect all three points from the game." Jeremy Last contributed to this report.