Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva claimed the final two Europa League spots allocated to Israeli clubs on the final Matchday of the season. The Greens defeated Maccabi Netanya 2-1 while Beer Sheva fell to Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 but still hung on to claim the final continental place thanks to Haifa’s last second win. Maccabi Tel Aviv will be competing in Champions League qualification and will enter the competition in the second round which begins in late July, while the other Israeli representative Bnei Yehuda will be in Europa League qualifiers due to winning the State Cup earlier in the month.
Maccabi Haifa just squeaked by Maccabi Netanya 2-1 as Yarden Shua scored a free kick goal in the 91st minute to send the Greens to Europe. Head Coach Marko Balbul was able to pull Haifa together after having started the season with Fred Rutten manning the sidelines. After Rutten was relieved of his duties, Eli Gutman was named as the new coach but due to health issues had to step down as owner Yakov Shahar turned the keys over to Balbul.
Yarden Shua handed the ball off to Neta Lavi in the 36th minute as the midfielder sent the ball off of Netanya defender Tim Heubach and into the goal for a 1-0 lead. However, Heubach made amends to his miscue midway through the second half when he sent a powerful header into the Haifa goal to draw even at 1-1. But Shua who had joined the Greens in January from Bnei Yehuda put his stamp on the season when he perfectly placed a 16 meter free kick behind Netanya keeper Dani Amos. The goal not only gave his side the win but it also secured a place in continental play for the first time in three years.
Maccabi Tel Aviv thumped Hapoel Beer Sheva 4-0 at Turner Stadium in the southern capital. The yellow-and-blue controlled the tempo and pace of play throughout the 90 minutes to record a convincing victory while Beer Sheva needed Shua’s Haifa winner to book their ticket to Europe.
Veteran Nigerian midfielder John Ogu who was playing his final game for Beer Sheva found the back of the goal first, but unfortunately he put the ball behind his own keeper to give Maccabi a 1-0 lead. Davidzada crossed the ball into the box but it glanced off of Ogu and behind Harush in the 23rd minute. Just before the halftime break, Yonatan Cohen sent a magnificent left footed free kick behind the Beer Sheva keeper to double the advantage after 45 minutes of action.
Avi Rikan added more misery to Beer Sheva when he pounded home a ball off of the bar in the 62nd minute while Eli Dasa joined the party in injury time when he found the back of the goal from the right side of the box to give Maccabi a 4-0 win. The victory gave Head Coach Vladimir Ivic’s squad 89 points on the season, the most in league history after a 36 game campaign.
Hapoel Hadera defeated Bnei Yehuda 2-1 in dramatic fashion to wrap up their season on a high note. Lucio found the back of the goal in the 94th minute to give the surprise package of the 3 points. Dor Jan opened the scoring in the 7th minute, but Eylon Almog drew Hadera even off a Vitali Ganon free kick in the 49th minute. However, it would be Lucio who had the last word in injury time to snatch the points for Hadera.