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Maccabi Haifa reclaim Israeli title

Maccabi Haifa FC, who relinquished their crown on the final day of last season, are Israeli champions again after beating Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC 2-0 in their penultimate game.

Elisha Levi's side are back on top in Israel
Elisha Levi's side are back on top in Israel ©Getty Images

Two second-half goals from Lior Refaelov earned Maccabi Haifa FC a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC that secured their 12th league championship.

Maccabi Haifa lost the title on the final day of last season but recorded their 24th league victory in the penultimate round of fixtures to take them six points clear of second-placed Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC. "It is my seventh title," said Maccabi Haifa captain Yaniv Katan. "The season has been long and hard but I am delighted we managed to put the record straight and win the championship."

Arik Benado, who won his ninth title at the club and is their record appearance holder, said: "We are a group of men as we won this title having lost four players who moved abroad [Shlomi Arbeitman, Dekel Keinan, Beram Kayal and Jorge Teixeira]." However, coach Elisha Levi added: "The job is not over yet. We are on course to win the double as we still have to face Hapoel Tel-Aviv in the State Cup final."

Owner Jaacov Schahar, who won his eighth championship at the club, said: "At our pre-season training camp in Bulgaria I spoke to the players and realised that I had to lift them as they were still suffering from losing the title on the final day. I asked them to pick their heads up and get to work so they could win back the title. I am just glad they managed to do that and now they can walk with their heads up high."

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