Bnei Sakhnin defeated Ashdod 2-1 in the port city in a relegation battle between the two bottom of the table clubs. After 60 minutes of nondescript soccer, the game took an interesting turn when referee Oral Grinfeld issued a controversial straight red card to Ashdod’s Yuval Jakobovich. The midfielder, who had just come on two minutes earlier dove for the ball as did Sari Falah for Sakhnin. Grinfeld was about to call a foul on Falah but changed his mind and handed Jakobovich the red. In the 75th minute, Grinfeld was again at the center of attention when he called a penalty in favor of Sakhnin when it looked like Obeida Khateb pulled down Mohammed Kalibat in the box, however, there was never any contact. Shlomi Azulay stepped up to take the spot kick and promptly scored to give the visitor’s a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later Ashdod found the equalizer also via penalty when Amir Nassar tripped up Sagiv Yehezkel in the area and Dan Bitton converted. But in the 84th minute Ataa Jaber beat Ashdod’s Yoav Gerafi to help Sakhnin to the 3-points and the win.
Champions Maccabi Tel Aviv and last season’s title holders Hapoel Beer Sheva ended their much anticipated game in a goalless draw at the Netanya Stadium. The game turned out to be a one sided affair as the yellow-and-blue dominated play but couldn’t find the back of the goal. The Southern Reds spent most of the matchup defending with the goal of keeping Maccabi at bay.
Beitar Jerusalem demolished Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-1 as four different goal scorers found the back of the goal. Freddy Plumain scored the lone marker of the first half by putting away a Yossi Benayoun pass. Anthony Varene headed in a Gadi Kinda cross in the 58th minute to double the Jerusalem advantage but Armando Cooper pulled a goal back for the visitor’s in the 79th minute. Goals by Tal Kahila who scored via a Plumain through ball and Or Zahavi’s tough angled shot both beat Tzachi Gigi in added time to give the hosts the victory.
Bnei Yehuda dropped Hapoel Hadera 3-2 at the Netanya Stadium. Visiting Bnei Yehuda took a 3-0 lead and then had to hold on as the hosts scored two late markers. Dolev Haziza opened the scoring in the 25th minute and Yuval Ashkenazi doubled the advantage five minutes later when he put home an Amit Zaneti cross. Ashkenazi completed his brace in the 61st minute on a counterattack to give Yossi Abuksis’s side a 3-0 lead but eight minutes later Eliel Peretz pulled a goal back. David Mateos scored in the 93rd minute but it was too little too late as Bnei Yehuda held on to win 3-2.
Maccabi Haifa defeated Maccabi Netanya 2-1 to move closer to a Europa League position. Fates Beciraj gave Netanya an early lead but Yarden Shua quickly found the equalizer. Georges Mandjek scored in the 30th minute off a terrific Ernest Mabouka cross as the Greens held on for the win and took the 3-points.
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shemona drew 2-2 at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva. The Reds grabbed the lead in the 22nd minute when Marvin Peersman sent a magnificent cross right to Raz Shlomo in the box who headed it home. Three minutes into the second half, Hadji Barry found the equalizer after scoring on keeper Robi Levkovich poor clearance. Hapoel regained the advantage in the 54th minute when Shahar Hirsch scored to give Kobi Refuah’s squad a 2-1 lead but six minutes later Levi Garcia found the back of the goal as the sides split the points.
Hapoel Raanana recorded a huge 2-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Sammy Ofer Stadium that will most probably secure their survival to play another season in the Premier League. Yarden Cohen gave the visitor’s a one goal lead in the 33rd minute and then added an insurance marker in the 48th minute via Eugene Ansah to pick up the 3-points.