Nes Ziona leaps over Kiryat Shemona in relegation battle, Beitar Jerusalem & Hapoel Haifa play to goalless draw – Recaps, Quotes MD33 CL, MD32 RP

Sektzia Nes Tziona captured three huge points in their battle against relegation thanks to a first half goal by Jahmir Hyka to down Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0.

Lior Zada, Nes Tziona’s coach reflected on his club’s crucial win, “We have said the entire season that every game is like a State Cup Final. So now we will go into the game on Thursday against Kiryat Shemona focussed on the goal at hand. I’m proud of the players as everyone had already relegated us but we are still here.”

Bnei Yehuda defeated struggling Kiryat Shemona 2-0 thanks to goals by Matija Ljujić and Roi Ben Shimon to take the 3 points as the northern squad dropped into the relegation zone. After a goalless first half Bnei Yehuda’s Matan Baltaxa was pulled down in the box by Marcus Diniz as Ljujić converted the spot kick. Roi Ben Shimon added a late insurance goal to give Elisha Levy’s team the victory.

“A team that wants to stay in the league can’t play like this,” said a distraught Kiryat Shemona coach Kobi Refuah. “We had to give so much more so we will put everything we have into our game on Thursday. Bnei Yehuda played open soccer and we couldn’t take advantage of it. We lost because we deserved to lose.”

Ashdod blew away Maccabi Netanya 5-2 in one of the craziest games of the season. The diamond city squad grabbed a 1-0 lead via a Guy Melamed header in the 9th minute but a Caram Jabar red card in the 18th minute led to a Roie Gordana penalty as the flood gates opened. Idan Dahan scored a brace while Muhammed Kna’an and Dean David each found the back of the goal to give Ashdod a 5-1 advantage. Nico Olsak pulled a goal back via a penalty but it was too little, too late as Ran Ben Shimon’s team recorded a 5-2 win.

“The game began in our favor after the red card and penalty,” said Ben Shimon. “This was a wonderful team effort and it was fun to see so many young players contributing. Eventhough we are heading towards the end of the season, it’s important that we set up the future generation of players.”

Slobodan Drapic didn’t hide his disappointment, “The red card threw our game into disarray and we have gotten many reds this season. We have to forget about this season and begin to prepare for the next campaign. It’s not pleasant to give up five goals.”

Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem played to a goalless draw at Sammy Ofer Stadium as the capital city side has yet to win a game in the Championship Playoffs.

“Every playoff game is important,” explained Levy. “And we are having a very tough time wrapping up a spot in Europe. We had chances but we just couldn’t score and as a result we couldn’t win.”

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