Hapoel Beersheba forward Anthony Nwakaeme celebrates after scoring the opener in last night’s 2-0 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Premier League action at Turner Stadium. .
(photo credit: YONI ARIELI)
Hapoel Beersheba will enter next weekend’s showdown against Maccabi Tel Aviv with at least a six-point gap at the top of the Premier League standings after registering a 2-0 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Turner Stadium.
Kiryat Shmona ended Beersheba’s dream of becoming just the second team to claim the local treble of championship, State Cup and Toto Cup in the same season last week, claiming a surprise 2-1 win in the State Cup round of 16 tie at Turner.
Beersheba, which had never previously lost a match at Turner in league or State Cup action since the opening of its new stadium in the summer of 2015, made sure it gained a small measure of revenge on Saturday.
Beersheba was made to work hard by the gritty Kiryat Shmona once more, with the hosts only taking the lead after Kiryat Shmona’s Jacob Njoku was sent off in the 77th minute, receiving his second yellow card in four minutes.
Nigerian forward Anthony Nwakaeme broke the deadlock one minute later in the 78th minute and Maharan Radi clinched the three points five minutes from time with his bullet from the edge of the box.
Beersheba moved nine points clear of Maccabi Tel Aviv at least until the yellow-and-blue visits Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
The top two meet for the second time this season when Maccabi hosts Beersheba next Saturday. Beersheba defeated Tel Aviv 2-0 in Turner in their first meeting.
“Sometimes you have to admit that things aren’t going very well and we had some problems at Hapoel Beersheba,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “It wasn’t a catastrophe, but matters weren’t as good as they were previously. There was a stage in the match today when it seemed as though we wouldn’t score, but we coped with the pressure and I’m proud of the players.”
After going on a club record ninematch winning streak in the league, Beersheba had won just two of six games, but Saturday’s victory was its third in four contests and Bachar is confident the team is heading in the right direction.
“We aren’t playing as well as we did, but that is only natural,” added Bachar. “The match against Maccabi Tel Aviv will be interesting, but we are focused on our own play.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva is just one point back of Maccabi Tel Aviv, continuing its excellent season with a 2-0 win over Bnei Yehuda.
Mihai Roman (38) and Manor Solomon (78) scored for Petah Tikva, which ended the match with 10 men following Naor Pesser’s sending off 10 minutes from time.
Third-place Petah Tikva, which extended its unbeaten streak to nine matches, has a five points cushion over Kiryat Shmona in fourth, with Beitar Jerusalem one point further back after only managing a 1-1 draw against Ashdod SC at Teddy Stadium.
Beitar was looking to make it four straight wins over all competitions, three days after beating Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 to reach the cup quarterfinals, which came on the back of its first winning streak of the league campaign.
However, it was Ashdod which took the lead through Dean David in the 52nd minute, with Itay Shechter leveling the score from the penalty spot in the 71st minute.
Hapoel Ra’anana breathed a sigh of relief after snapping a five-match losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Kfar Saba. Mohammad Shaker (63) scored the only goal of the match for Ra’anana, with Kfar Saba playing with 10 men from the 45th minute following Mavis Tchibota’s sending off.
On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv faces Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Ashkelon visits Bnei Sakhnin.