Beersheba opens slender first-leg advantage

Israeli champion still with plenty to do in return leg after settling for tight 2-1 victory at home.

July 13, 2017 02:52
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba defender Miguel Vitor

Hapoel Beersheba defender Miguel Vitor celebrates after scoring his team’s opener in last night’s 2-1 victory over Honved of Hungary in the first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round.. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Hapoel Beersheba will have little room for error in next week’s Champions League second qualifying round second leg against Honved in Budapest after claiming a 2-1 win in the opening match of the tie at Turner Stadium on Wednesday.

The two-time defending Israeli champion was hoping to take a significant lead into the return leg in Hungary, but will instead enter next Wednesday’s match knowing it still has plenty of work to do to reach the next round.

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Portuguese defender Miguel Vitor gave Beersheba the lead in the 35th minute and the hosts were in an ideal position seven minutes into the second half after Dan Einbinder found the back of the net with an exquisite back-heel finish. Matters became a whole lot more complicated for Beersheba in the 63rd minute though, with Davide Lanzafame scoring a precious away goal for Honved.

The Hungarians only need a 1-0 win in the second leg in order to progress to the next round. Next week’s match will be played in front of empty stands as Honved was punished by UEFA for racist chanting by its fans.

“The score-line isn’t great but at least we won,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar, whose team came within a single goal of reaching the Champions League group stage last season.

“For this stage of the season we played quite well. We won and our fate is in our hands. But we face a tough job in the second leg. We saw tonight that we are facing a good team and we will need to be ready next week. I’m confident we will complete the job next week.”

Honved registered the first chance of the night, with Davide Lanzafame’s freekick almost wrong-footing Beersheba goalkeeper Guy Haimov, who managed to get a hand on the ball at the last moment.

Beersheba struggled to break down Honved’s defense and the opener ultimately arrived courtesy of a set-piece.

Maor Melikson’s cross was turned in by Vitor’s unstoppable header.

The hosts looked to be perfectly placed seven minutes into the second half when Einbinder doubled their lead. Much of the talk ahead of Wednesday’s match surrounded Nigerian midfielder Anthony Nwakaeme’s decision to sit out training over the weekend after the club turned down an offer from China that would have significantly increased his wages.

However, the matter was settled after he met with club officials and took to Instagram to announce: “Forget About The News To China I’m Here To Stay With Hapoel Beer Sheva.”

Nwakaeme did all the hard work in Beersheba’s second goal on Wednesday, but the only thing that will be remembered is Einbinder’s spectacular finish.

Beersheba looked to be in cruise control, but Turner fell silent 11 minutes later. Lanzafame was afforded far too much time and space in the box and he easily found the back of the net with his header.

Bachar introduced strikers Mohammad Ghadir, Elyaniv Barda and Michael Ohana off the bench in the hope of finding another goal, but Beersheba couldn’t score again and has a difficult task on its hands in next week’s second leg.

“We hoped to win by a bigger margin,” said Einbinder, who was making his debut for the team after joining from Beitar Jerusalem over the summer.

“I’m very happy that we won and remained in control of this tie. The most important thing is to ensure we progress to the next round.”

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