Hapoel Beersheba striker Elyaniv Barda broke down in tears after netting his team’s second goal in last night’s win over Hapoel Kfar Saba, scoring a few hours after his grandfather’s funeral.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba reestablished a three-point margin at the top of the Premier League standings with a 3-0 win over Hapoel Kfar Saba on Monday night, moving clear of Maccabi Tel Aviv by maintaining its almost perfect record at Turner Stadium.
Beersheba led the standings by as many as 10 points earlier this season, but its woes on the road allowed Maccabi to move tied on points with a 2-0 win over Bnei Yehuda on Saturday. Beersheba’s goalless deadlock at Hapoel Haifa last week was its fifth straight away league match without victory, a streak stretching back over two months.
With its Europa League campaign also coming to an end with a 2-1 defeat to Besiktas in the round of 32 in Istanbul last Thursday, Beersheba was desperate to get back to winning ways against the struggling Kfar Saba and it did so despite once more playing far from its best.
First-half goals from Maor Melikson (30) and Elyaniv Barda (45) decided the match, with Michael Ohana (89) providing the icing on the cake in Beersheba’s 11th win from 12 league matches at Turner this season.
“What has happened until now is insignificant,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “The only important thing is our 12 remaining league matches and we need to play better and bring the right energy.
“We are out of Europe, out of the State Cup and we have just one remaining goal - to win the league.”
Kfar Saba remained only one point above the relegation zone, failing to win for a 15th straight league match, not even finding the back of the net for a seventh consecutive game.
“I believe we will stay up, but not if we play with the attitude we showed in the first half,” said Kfar Saba coach Eli Cohen.
Beersheba’s start to the match was yet again far from its clinical best, but the hosts ultimately netted the breakthrough in the 30th minute and never looked back. Niv Zrihen, who was making his league debut for Beersheba, wriggled his way through the Kfar Saba defense before providing the assist for Melikson’s unstoppable shot into the top left corner.
The hosts were cruising at the break after doubling their advantage on the brink of the interval. After squandering a golden chance earlier in the first half, Barda needed three attempts on goal to finally find the back of the net.
The veteran striker had his first shot saved by goalkeeper Ran Kadosh, his header from the rebound cleared from the line by defender Itzik Cohen, but scored into an empty net with his third attempt, breaking down in tears during his celebration with his grandfather being laid to rest earlier in the day.
Beersheba relaxed in the second half, but Kfar Saba never came close to mounting a comeback. Any hope it may have had was dashed when Brazilian midfielder Diogo Kachuba was sent off in the 74th minute and substitute Ohana capped the scoring one minute from time, giving Beersheba three goals in a league match for the first time since mid-December.