Hapoel Ra’anana midfielder Mohammed Shaker (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the only goal in last night’s surprise 1-0 victory over Hapoel Beersheba in Netanya..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Ra’anana registered the biggest surprise of the Premier League season to date on Sunday night, stunning reigning champion and runaway leader Hapoel Beersheba 1-0 in Netanya.
Beersheba entered the match on the back of a club record nine consecutive league victories, a streak stretching back three months.
Beersheba had picked up 34 of a possible 39 points with an overall goal difference of 38-6, but failed to find the back of the net for just the second time this season on Sunday, suffering its second defeat of the campaign after losing 2-1 to Maccabi Haifa back in mid-September.
“We controlled the match but hardly created any chances,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar, whose team still holds a comfortable nine-point gap over second place Maccabi Tel Aviv. “We tried different things in the second half but all the changes confused the players and I confused myself. You can’t win every match and we will now need to try and start a new winning streak.”
Mohammed Shaker scored the only goal of the match in the ninth minute, and despite continued pressure, Beersheba couldn’t find an equalizer.
“Everything has to fall into place to beat Beersheba and that happened tonight,” said Ra’anana coach Haim Silvas.
Earlier Sunday, Hapoel Haifa came back from a goal down to beat rock-bottom Hapoel Ashkelon 3-1. Issoumaila Lingane gave Ashkelon the lead in the 19th minute, with Maharan Lala equalizing from the rebound of his missed penalty in the 67th minute before completing the comeback nine minutes later. Shlomi Arbeitman clinched the victory in stoppage time, taking Haifa five points clear of Ashkelon and the relegation zone.
On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Haifa, with both teams in desperate need of a win for different reasons.
Hapoel, which is fighting for its life off the pitch, has won just one of its past six matches and sits only four points above the relegation zone. Haifa can move within a single point of Maccabi Tel Aviv in second place with a win.