Maccabi Haifa missed the chance to cut the deficit at the top of the Premier League table to seven points Saturday, when it came up against an anemic Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield and neither side managed to score.

With eight games left after today, and knowing that anything short of victory would severely dent his team’s championship aspirations, Haifa coach Arik Benado started with three strikers, yet was unable to break through the Tel Aviv defenses.

Tel Aviv barely resembled the team that has waltzed its way into a great position to secure a first league title in a decade.

Eliran Atar had a goal disallowed for offside in the 26th minute, but the game, which was played at a frantic pace, failed to produce any clear-cut chances for either side. Haifa’s ultra-attacking formation allowed it to dominate the second half, but in the end it paid for its failure to create chances.

Elsewhere, Hapoel Tel Aviv kept its grip on third place with a 1-0 victory over Ramat Hasharon, thanks to a second-half effort from Toto Tamuz.

It was a good day, meanwhile, for the Marinkovic family. In a game that saw two of the teams vying for third place ? and a ticket into the Europa League ? meet at Bloomfield, Bnei Yehuda and Kiryat Shmona were both left disappointed after a 1-1 draw. But there was joy for Serbian striker Nenad Marinkovic, who grabbed a late equalizer for Bnei Yehuda, after Shir Tzedek had given the visitors the lead in the 77th minute. And in Acre, Marinkovic’s older brother Nebojsa scored both goals in his team’s 2-0 relegation playoffs game against Maccabi Netanya.

In Saturday’s other relegation playoff encounter, Hapoel Ramat Gan and Hapoel Be’er Sheva drew 1-1. Ran Yitzhak gave Ramat Gan the lead in the 61st minute, only for Dovev Gabay to level six minutes later.