Hapoel Beersheba is breathing down Maccabi Tel Aviv’s neck after closing to within a single point of the Premier League summit on Saturday night with its seventh win from the past eight matches.
Beersheba beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-1 on the road, piling the pressure on the defending champion from Tel Aviv, which can reestablish a fourpoint gap when it visits Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya on Sunday.
Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo registered two more assists on Saturday, taking his tally for the season to 14, twice as many as any other player in the league.
Buzaglo, who was directly involved in 12 of Beersheba’s 18 goals over the past eight games, wriggled into the box to set up his side’s opener in the 40th minute, with Dutch striker Glynor Plet finishing off the move for his eighth goal in the past 11 matches.
Petah Tikva was left with 10 men in the 54th minute when Ivorian Zito was harshly sent off by referee Guy Berger.
Nevertheless, the hosts recovered to level the score in the 68th minute through Pedro Galvan’s splendid free-kick from the edge of the area and came centimeters away from completing a comeback two minutes later when Marwan Kabha’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
Inevitably, Petah Tikva was soon made to rue its missed opportunity, with William Soares heading Buzaglo’s free kick into the back of the net in the 72nd minute.
Elyaniv Barda wrapped up the three points with his penalty six minutes later, but it was Buzaglo who was once more named as man of the match.
“I’m in the best form of my life,” claimed the 26-year-old Buzaglo, who was called up to the Israel national team last week after more than two years out of the squad.
“We once more showed our character and that we are a team of winners.”
A Petar Orlandic goal five minutes from time gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a 1-1 draw against Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday, keeping the Reds within striking distance of the third-place northerners in the battle for Europa League qualification.
Ahmed Abed handed the visitors the lead in the 71st minute, nine minutes after they fell to 10 men following Hen Dilmoni’s red card.
However, Orlandic ensured that Hapoel remained just four points behind Kiryat Shmona, with two more games to be played in the regular season.
Maccabi Haifa missed an opportunity to leapfrog Kiryat Shmona into third place after being held to a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Acre. Rayo (76) equalized for Haifa, which is tied on 40 points with Kiryat Shmona, after Hamdi Salihi gave Acre the lead with a sensational bicycle kick in the 37th minute.
Yosef Abu Laban’s goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time handed Hapoel Ramat Hasharon a precious 1-0 victory at Bnei Yehuda on Saturday in a direct showdown in the battle against relegation.
Ramat Hasharon (19 points) sent Bnei Yehuda (18) back to last place, with a single point now separating the two teams, as well as Petah Tikva (19).
Beitar Jerusalem’s relegation woes look to be a thing of the past after it beat Ashdod SC 2-0 at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.
Pablo Brandan headed Beitar into the lead after less than two minutes before fellow defender Nisso Kapiloto (28) secured the victory that took Beitar 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
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