Maccabi Tel Aviv dropped to its first defeat of the Premier League season on Monday night, suffering a 3-1 loss to Hapoel Beersheba at Vasermil Stadium.

Maccabi dominated proceedings for large periods, but Beersheba exposed Tel Aviv’s vulnerability in set pieces and twice took the lead against the run of play through Siraj Nassar (40) and Bojan Markovic (66) before clinching its first win of the season seven minutes from time thanks to William Njovu.

The defeat ended Maccabi’s run of four straight wins to start the campaign, an identical repeat of 2011/12 when the yellow-and-blue also suffered its first defeat in its fifth match before its season completely unraveled.

“We lost this game because we squandered too many chances in the first half,” said Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia. “Two individual mistakes in set pieces allowed them to score. In the end, we had to fight for the game and that made it easy for them because it created spaces.”

Both sides were tentative in the early stages, but Maccabi was the first to venture forward and it had more than its fair share of chances to break the deadlock.

The yellow-and-blue created scoring opportunities in quick succession in the final 10 minutes of the first half and Eliran Atar squandered Maccabi’s best chance of the half seven minutes from the break when his powerful effort from close range skimmed the crossbar.

However, just when it seemed that it was only a matter of time until Maccabi would score the opener, Beersheba found the back of the net with its first real chance of the night.

Aviram Bruchian’s free kick found Nassar unmarked and he left ’keeper Vincent Enyeama no chance with his header.

It took Tel Aviv less than three second half minutes to equalize courtesy of Beersheba goalkeeper Austin Ejide.

The Nigerian spilled Rafi Dahan’s cross right into Munas Dabbur’s path and the youngster had little trouble netting the equalizer into an empty net.

The visitors seized complete control of the possession after that, but yet again the yellow-and-blue let itself down with its defensive play in a set-piece.

Bruchian sent a short corner towards Kenyan Patrick Osiako, who squared the ball into the box for Markovic to head into the back of the net.

Beersheba secured the win seven minutes from time, with Bruchian spotting Klemi Saban with a long free kick and Njovu subsequently slotting in his team’s third goal of the night to spark delirium in the Vasermil stands.

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