Soccer / Premier League / Solari screamer all but seals title for K. Shmona
Hapoel TA and Ashdod choke again as gap grows.
It says in the book of Israeli soccer cliches that grinding out a win after a mediocre performance is the sign of a true champion. Sure enough, while Kiryat Shmona's performance against Bnei Yehuda last night was in no way stellar, the winning goal in added time was clearly a moment to remember.
Barely 30 seconds after his mother entered the stadium, David Solari decided to try one more shot after being frustrated throughout the second half by goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba. Solari took a pass from the tireless Shimon Abuhatzira, and despite the congestion, let off a stunner from outside the box that zipped into the upper right corner.
Coach Ran Ben Shimon danced a jig, and fans could excuse the league leader's owner Izzy Sheratzky for declaring what everybody in the stadium felt after the final whistle: "That was a championship goal."
All the more so, considering that the gap is now 14 points with only 10 games to play. Second-place Hapoel Tel Aviv was lucky to escape with a point against Ramat Hasharon, when Mirko Oremus equalized deep in extra time after a Tomer Swisa goal in the first half. Third-place Ashdod could fare no better than a 1-1 draw with Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Hapoel Be'er Sheva finally managed to rise above the relegation zone with a dramatic last-minute win against Maccabi Petah Tikva, while the most entertaining game of the day pitted pitiful Maccabi Tel Aviv against Hapoel Acre. Maccabi finally played up to its potential, as Eliran Atar and Barak Itzhaki provided a surfeit of slick moves.
Acre was skillful and dangerous on the counterattack, but Maccabi finally got its reward in the 63rd minute: Atar scored after Acre's goalkeeper fumbled a ferocious Itzhaki shot. From then on Maccabi played brilliant soccer, scoring one more goal, in added time, when Atar fed substitute Roi Kahat for a simple tap-in.
Elsewhere, Rishon Letzion and Netanya drew 1-1. Maccabi Haifa plays Beitar Jerusalem tonight, but for all practical purposes Solari's goal sealed the season. Kiryat Shmona's championship appears little more than a formality.