Hadera heads to Championship Playoffs, Maccabi continues to make history – Israel Premier League MD26 Recaps & Highlights

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Hapoel Hadera punched their ticket to the Championship Playoffs after drawing with Maccabi Netanya 2-2. A late Guy Melamed brace for Netanya threatened to send host Hadera to the relegation playoffs, but the point coupled with a Hapoel Haifa draw against Raanana gave Niso Avitan’s team a well deserved opportunity to battle for a place in Europe. Vitali Ganon opened the scoring for Hadera in the 12th minute thanks to an assist by Eylon Almog while they doubled their lead twenty minutes later as Almog again played facilitator for Eliel Peretz. However, Netanya pulled back a goal via a header by Guy Melamed in the 72nd minute as things took a turn for the worse when Diya Lababidi was booked with his second yellow card and was sent off with a red. Melamed took advantage of the extra man and found the equalizer in the 88th minute making for a dramatic end but that didn’t stop the Hadera faithful, players and management celebrated their shocking accomplishment.

Maccabi Tel Aviv needed a late game comeback to defeat Bnei Yehuda 2-1. Second half goals by Eliran Atar and Avi Rikan ensured that the yellow-and-blue would finish the regular season undefeated going unbeaten in 26 Matchdays. Bnei Yehuda took a 1-0 lead after Tambi Sagas scored off a missed Shay Konstantini penalty to go into the break ahead by a goal. However, Atar drew Maccabi even on a magnificent free kick and then the striker collected the assist on Avi Rikan’s 81st minute marker in the box to complete the comeback and take the win and 3-points.

Hapoel Haifa drew 2-2 with Hapoel Raanana as both squads will play the final part of the season in the relegation playoffs. Raanana took a 1-0 lead when Mirko Ormush found Karem Arshid who beat Ernestas Setkus one on one to shock the Sammy Ofer crowd. The Carmel Reds went into halftime all even at 1-1 thanks to an Idan Shemesh strike and then took the lead in the 69th minute via a Guy Hadida header off of Gili Vermouth’s second assist of the contest. But Yarden Cohen drove home a 20 meter blast in the 74th minute to split the points and send Sharon Mimer’s side into the lower half of the table.

Maccabi Haifa solidified second place with a 3-2 away win at Kiryat Shemona. The Greens are now undefeated in 12 straight league matches under Marko Balbul as they head into the championship playoffs with the goal of wrapping up a European qualifying place. Shon Weissman who entered the game in the 64th minute, scored a brace to rally Haifa from a 2-1 deficit to record the win up north. Haifa took a 3rd minute lead when Yarden Shua assisted on a Raz Meir marker but the hosts scored a pair of late first half goals thanks to Jorge Morcillo and Yoel Abuhatzera to grab a one goal advantage heading into the break. But Balbul inserted Weissman and the youngster worked his magic by first scoring off a magnificent through ball and then giving Haifa the lead for good in the 87th minute thanks to a gorgeous Kerim Frei assist to grab the 3 points.

After four straight seasons in the Championship Playoffs, Beitar Jerusalem will head to the relegation playoffs after falling at home to Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-1. Nir Kilnger’s side couldn’t find the back of the goal throughout the 90 minutes and then gave up an Ahmed Abed strike from inside the box as the Reds took home the victory.

Hapoel Beer Sheva and last place Bnei Sakhnin played to a goalless draw at Doha Stadium in the Galilee. Beer Sheva keeper Ohad Levita was the star of the show and helped his side take a point, especially after Oren Bitton was booked with a straight red card in the 47th minute due to a reckless tackle on Ali Osman.

Maccabi Petah Tikva ended a tumultuous regular season with a 2-0 win over relegation candidate Ashdod. Eli Elbaz scored the first goal of the contest in the 11th minute while Armando Copper slotted home a penalty in the 54th minute after a Nir Bardea handball in the box to take the three points.