Hapoel Beersheba remained within close grips of the Premier League summit on Monday night, emphatically beating Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at Vasermil Stadium to move to within three points of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Beersheba hadn’t defeated Haifa at home since December 2002 and found itself in an early deficit after Alon Turgeman’s 11th-minute strike. However, it showed its steely character yet again on Monday, coming back from behind to claim all three points for the sixth time this season.
Goals from Tomislav Pajovic (20) and Glynor Plet (28) completed a swift comeback and Dovev Gabai secured the triumph nine minutes into the second half, extending Beersheba’s unbeaten streak to 12 matches.
“We have made a lot of history this season and did so once more tonight,” said Beersheba’s delighted coach Elisha Levy. “This was a fantastic night.
We played well and so did Haifa. But we ultimately recorded a very important home win.”
Levy did his best not to get carried away.
“The most important thing for us is to continue down this path,” he added. “We need to remain grounded, enjoy our matches and make sure we have more nights like these.”
Haifa remained in sixth place after suffering its seventh defeat of the season, dropping 14 points behind Beersheba.
“The two goals we conceded in the first half changed the momentum,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado. “We could have gotten back into the match after that, but we shouldn’t be conceding such goals. I don’t think Beersheba had any other shots on target, but they still deserved to win.”
Haifa took the lead with the first chance of the night. Rayo’s ball sliced the Beersheba defense in the 11th minute and Turgeman coolly beat ‘keeper Austin Ejide for his sixth goal of the campaign and fourth in the past five matches.
Serbian defender Pajovic equalized for Beersheba nine minutes later, finding the back of the net with a glancing header from Maor Buzaglo’s free kick.
Haifa’s horrendous defending in set pieces would cost it dearly once more in the 28th minute. Buzaglo provided the assist from a corner and Dutch striker Plet headed Beersheba into the lead.
Haifa could have made up for its awful defending had it been accurate in front of goal, but Hen Ezra squandered a superb opportunity when he found himself all alone in the center of the box with 10 minutes to play in the first half, not even finding the target.
Beersheba ended any lingering hope Haifa had of making a comeback nine minutes into the second half. The Greens defense was caught napping yet again, with Gal Erel releasing a quick free kick to put Gabai through on goal to score his fifth goal in the past four games.
Beersheba never lost its grip on the match after that and cruised to three more points and another memorable victory.