Soccer / Premier League / Ramat Hasharon Makes Upper Playoffs, as Hap. Haifa Stirs Things Up at the Bottom

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The final week of the regular season provided two notable moments last night ahead of the playoff phase: Ramat Hasharon securing a spot in the upper playoff bracket and Hapoel Haifa making a dramatic comeback to keep things interesting for those teams trying to avoid relegation.

Visiting Ramat Hasharon defeated stumbling Be’er Sheva, moving the surprising team four points clear of Beitar Jerusalem and five ahead of F.C. Ashdod.

Beitar and Ashdod, which play each other Sunday night, will have to compete in the lower playoff.

“At the beginning of the season I didn’t believe that something like this was possible, but it’s a tremendous and historic achievement,” said an excited Benny Tabak, the modest head coach of Ramat Hasharon. “The entire staff did a wonderful job, and it gives you the energy and desire for more.”

Hapoel Haifa had a dramatic comeback against a naive Ramat Gan squad to win 2-1. The triumph put Haifa three points ahead of Ramat Gan as it also leapfrogged Maccabi Netanya, which lost to Maccabi Haifa 2-1, as well as Bnei Sakhnin, which was blanked at Kiryat Shmona 2-0.

Now, only six points separate ninth-place Be’er Sheva and last-place Acre.

In the upper playoffs, Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium on March 30, while the return leg at Kiryat Eliezer will be held April 6.

Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba, center, gesturing during Saturday night’s away match against Hapoel Acre.Credit: Nimrod Glickman