Soccer-Maccabi Netanya relegated to Israeli second division

JERUSALEM Sun May 5, 2013 12:08am BST

JERUSALEM May 4 (Reuters) - - Maccabi Netanya were relegated to the Israeli second division on Saturday after a 3-0 home loss to Hapoel Beersheba in one of the most tense finishes at the bottom of the league in years.

Three head-to-head clashes all involved clubs who could have been relegated but on the day, Netanya were the only team to lose.

Netanya, who ended up 13th in the 14-team division, will join already-relegated Hapoel Ramat Gan in the second tier next season.

Two potentially explosive fixtures between Arab club Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem ended goalless and Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Akko finished their match level at 1-1.

The outcome of Saturday's game was a nightmare for Netanya coach Reuven Atar, who was sacked earlier in the season for being unable to also lift Maccabi Haifa out of the relegation zone.

His successor Arik Benado went on to inspire Haifa to finish as runners-up.

The grudge fixture between Arab club Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem, bastion of the Israeli political right-wing, ended with little incident as huge numbers of police were on hand to ensure that proceedings did not get out of hand.

Matters at the top were largely concluded last month when Maccabi Tel Aviv wrapped up a first league crown in a decade. (Editing by Alan Baldwin)