Ramat Gan shuts out Lod to book Premier League return

Win comes four weeks after the teams made front-page headlines following a mass-brawl between players and officials.

Hapoel Ramat Gan (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Ramat Gan
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After just one season, Hapoel Ramat Gan returned to the Premier League on Friday, defeating Bnei Lod 2-0 in a winner- takes-all showdown at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.
Ramat Gan, Lod and Maccabi Herzliya ended the National League regular season tied on points last week, but only the first two played for promotion due to their superior goal difference.
Omer Buksenboim put Ramat Gan in the driving seat after less than six minutes on Friday with a nifty move on the edge of the area that left the Lod defense helpless.
Ramat Gan survived some nervy moments in the second half before a splendid solo effort by Ofir Hemo, who began his 75th-minute run on the halfway line, clinched the win, four weeks after the teams made front-page headlines following a mass-brawl between players and officials.
However, Ramat Gan will not be making too many preparations for the Premier League just yet, and not through any fault of its own.
Lod’s 6-0 win over Maccabi Ahi Nazareth last week, which saw it leapfrog Herzliya on goal difference, is under police investigation for match-fixing.
The Israel Football Association announced ahead of Friday’s match that should police determine that Lod’s win was not legitimate another playoff decider could be held between Ramat Gan and Herzliya.
However, Ramat Gan coach Freddy David is certain Friday’s result will stand and his team will play in the top flight next season.
“We are going on our holidays, players are going to be released because they are out of contract so there will not be another match,” David said.
“This was a difficult season but we always knew we could gain promotion.
“Bnei Lod failed to beat us in all four of our meetings this season and we deserved to gain promotion. I dedicate this promotion to Carlos Chakana.”
Chakana scored the dramatic 90th-minute winner that gave Ramat Gan a 3-2 win over Hapoel Ra’anana last week before bursting into tears and dedicating the goal to his son Igor who died at the age of 12 last November after a battle with cancer.
“I already said last week that Igor is helping us from above,” Chakana said.
“I’m in so much pain, but I’d like to thank him for everything.”