Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Hanan Maman (right) celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in last night’s 3-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba returned to first place in the Premier League standings at the expense of Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday night, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0 while the yellowand- blue suffered a surprise 1-0 home loss to Hapoel Ra’anana.
Roei Zikri’s 28th-minute winner secured Ra’anana’s upset at Maccabi, which entered the day one point ahead of Beersheba.
The two-time reigning champion knew that even a draw would be good enough to take it back to the summit after losing first place with a loss to Tel Aviv two weeks ago. But Beersheba would return to the top in style, registering its biggest league win of the season, with its previous 14 victories all coming by no more than two goals.
Hanan Maman, who has been a revelation since joining from Hapoel Haifa in the January transfer window, broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, with Anthony Nawkaeme doubling the margin with a penalty in first half stoppage time.
Maman scored his second goal of the night and his third since joining Beersheba less than three minutes into the second half to secure the points.
“We had a very tough time until we scored the first goal,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “Everyone knows what we have been through this season, but we aren’t going to cry about it. This is a win that can help us to pick up momentum.”
Beersheba, which extended its unbeaten streak at Turner Stadium to 46 matches, has picked up 27 of a possible 33 points at home so far this season.
Beersheba will play a third consecutive match at Turner next week, welcoming Beitar Jerusalem, which can move up to second place and close back to within one point of the champion when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on Monday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv was unbeaten in 14 matches and won eight of its previous nine games, but Saturday’s loss leaves it two points back of Beersheba and could see it drop to third place.
“There are four teams that are close together and every week there is a team losing points,” said Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff. “We lost points in a place that we didn’t expect to and on a day that we didn’t expect to. It happened, but now we have to stand up strong and understand that to win games we have to play from the first to the last moment and we have to go 200 percent.”
Ashdod SC took three important points in the battle against relegation on Saturday, beating rock-bottom Hapoel Acre 3-2 thanks to Or Inbrum’s stoppage-time winner. Ashdod twice came back from behind, with Dan Bitton (56) and Blessing Eleke (68) canceling out goals by Ben Azubel (14) and Gabi Kanikovski (66).
Ashdod moved four points clear of Hapoel Ashkelon and the relegation zone. Coach Messay Dego will make his debut for Ashkelon when it visits Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Sunday.
Maccabi Haifa is only eight points above the bottom two, dropping to 10th place with a 1-0 loss at Bnei Sakhnin.
Shlomi Azulay headed in the only goal of the match in the 23rd minute to give coach Tal Banin his first victory with the side.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Haifa hosts Maccabi Netanya.