The Israel Premier League regular season came to a dramatic end as Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Haifa both notched Championship Playoff spots while Hapoel Hadera and Bnei Yehuda will play in the Relegation Playoff phase. The Championship Playoffs will feature league leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Beer Sheva, Beiter Jerusalem as well as Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Haifa. Each team will play each other twice as the squads will have ten games a piece to try and overtake the yellow-and-blue while vying for one of the four European qualification slots.
Hapoel Hadera, Bnei Yehuda, Hapoel Kfar Saba, Kiryat Shemona, Maccabi Netanya, Hapoel Raanana, Sektzia Nes Tziona and Ashdod will play in the relegation playoffs. The bottom two clubs at the end of the campaign will be demoted to the Leumit League with the top two teams in the second division being promoted to the Premier league.
Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Hadera 2-1 to punch their ticket to the Championship Playoffs for the first time since 2014. Omri Altman scored a brace for Nir Klinger’s squad to send the Reds fans into ecstasy as they will have a chance to compete for a continental qualifying place. Maor Bozaglo sent Altman a magnificent through ball that the latter put behind Hadera keeper Austin Ejide in the 30th minute but Eliel Peretz drew his squad even just at the stroke of halftime. However, Altman placed a perfect chip shot over Ejide in the 94th minute to send his side into the Championship Playoffs in style.
Hapoel Haifa and Bnei Yehuda played to a goalless draw as Haim Silvas’s Carmel Reds did what they needed to do in order to advance to the Championship playoffs while Elisha Levy’s squad were left on the outside looking in.
Maccabi Haifa demolished Hapoel Beer Sheva 4-0 in a one sided battle that was held at the Netanya Stadium due to a radius penalty on the Greens. Nikita Rukavytsya slammed home a rebound in the 16th minute to put Marko Balbul’s squad on the scoreboard while Tjaron Chery doubled the lead just two minutes later as he beat Beer Sheva keep Ohad Levita from in close. Yanic Wildschut finished off a terrific team effort in the 57th minute and Dolev Haziza put away a gorgeous through ball from Yarden Shua to cap off the victory.
Maccabi Tel Aviv slipped by Maccabi Netanya 1-0 thanks to an Eylon Almog 4th minute goal as the yellow-and-blue finished up the regular season in first place for the second straight season. Next week, Vladimir Ivic’s squad will begin the Championship playoffs with a home date against Hapoel Haifa while Netanya will feature in the relegation playoffs for the balance of the season.
Beitar Jerusalem needed a 92nd minute strike by the unlikely source of Uri Magbo to defeat Ashdod 2-1. The yellow-and-black opened the scoring with a 7th minute beauty by Eliran Atar but Dean David found the equalizer in the 51st minute you knot the score up at 1-1. However, Magbo headed home the winner as Roni Levy’s squad took the 3-points.
Hapoel Kfar Saba downed last place Hapoel Raanana 3-0 at the Moshava Stadium. Omer Fadida opened the scoring with a 39th minute penalty while he played facilitator for Yahav Afriat a minute later to give the hosts a quick 2-0 lead ahead of halftime. French striker Amadou Soukouna added a third goal in the 59th minute as newly appointed Head Coach Amir Turgeman won his debut match in fine fashion. Both teams will feature in the relegation playoffs as Raanana will need a miracle in order to remain in the first division.
Sektzia Nes Tziona slipped by Kiryat Shemona 1-0 as Raz Stain scored a brilliant free kick from 25 meters to give his team the three points.