Czech Striker Timas Pekhart of Hapoel Beersheba.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba added another piece of silverware to its ever-growing collection on Thursday, but the reigning Premier League champion will be hoping its 4-2 win over Bnei Yehuda in Netanya did not come at a heavy cost.
Beersheba faces Maribor of Slovenia in the first leg of the Champions League playoffs next Wednesday and the sight of Miguel Vitor and Dan Einbinder hobbling off the pitch on Thursday will likely result in some sleepless nights for coach Barak Bachar.
Beersheba didn’t require the two to overcome last season’s State Cup holder Bnei Yehuda, which twice managed to come from behind but couldn’t keep up with Hapoel in the closing stages.
Goals by Mohammad Ghadir (20) and Tomas Pekhart (59) were canceled out by Almog Buzaglo (53) and Maor Kandil (66), but Loai Taha (74) and Anthony Nwakaeme (79) ensured Beersheba lifted the Super Cup for a second straight season.
Beersheba is optimistic of reaching the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in club history after avoiding the big names in the playoffs and being drawn against Slovenian champion NK Maribor.
Regardless of the outcome of its playoff tie, Beersheba has already guaranteed itself continental play deep into the winter. The 10 teams to lose in the Champions League playoffs will be handed a berth in the Europa League group stage.
Beersheba looked to dominate from the start and took a deserved lead in the 20th minute. In-form Nwakaeme did all the hard work before Einbinder squared the ball for Mohammad Ghadir, who tucked in the opener from close range.
Einbinder didn’t last much longer, being substituted in the 36th minute with a groin injury, which Beersheba is hopeful will not keep him out for long.
Maharan Radi, who replaced Einbinder, missed a chance to double the lead before the break and Bnei Yehuda equalized eight minutes into the second half.
Ben Bitton tripped Mavis Tchibota in the box and Almog Buzaglo gave goalkeeper Dudu Goresh no chance with his penalty.
It took Beersheba just three minutes to regain the lead.
New Czech striker Pekhart scored his first goal for the team by coolly chipping the ‘keeper after Maor Melikson sliced the Bnei Yehuda defense with his through ball.
Four minutes later, Beersheba lost another key player to injury.
Portuguese defender Vitor left with a knee injury and is a serious doubt for next week.
Vitor’s absence cost Beersheba immediately, with Bnei Yehuda leveling the score through Maor Kandil’s header.
Nwakaeme squandered a golden opportunity to move Beersheba back in front six minutes later, with his poor penalty being saved by goalkeeper Emilijus Zubas. However, Hapoel took the lead from the ensuing corner, with Loai Taha scoring from close range after a melee in the box.
Nwakaeme netted the goal he deserved to secure Beersheba’s victory in the 79th minute, scoring after a Michael Ohana slalom to clinch yet another title for Beersheba.