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Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Niv Zrihen (top) jumps on teammate John Ogu after providing the cross that Bnei Yehuda’s Paz Ben-Ari turned into his own net to give the visiting Southerners a 1-0 win in Petah Tikva.(Photo by: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Beersheba express picking up speed
By ALLON SINAI
09/18/2017
Defending champion rides Bnei Yehuda own-goal to victory • Mimer replaces Refua as Mac PT coach.
Hapoel Beersheba’s Premier League title defense continued to slowly gather momentum on Sunday with a 1-0 win at Bnei Yehuda.

After picking up just a single point from its first two league matches and being knocked out in the Champions League playoffs, the two-time defending champion made it three wins from three matches over all competitions in the month of September.

After edging Hapoel Ashkelon 1-0 thanks to Maharan Radi’s winner with the last kick of the match and getting its Europa League group campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Lugano of Switzerland on Thursday, Beersheba got the better of Bnei Yehuda to move within three points of the summit.

The only goal of the match arrived in the ninth minute, with Bnei Yehuda’s Paz Ben-Ari turning the ball into his own net after failing to deal with Niv Zrihen’s cross.

Bnei Yehuda played with 10 men from the 33rd minute after Mavis Tchibota received two yellow cards within seconds.

Tchibota was shown the first yellow for a foul from behind on Dor Alu and the second for cynically applauding referee Roei Reinshriber’s decision.

Beersheba created plenty of chances to increase its lead, but couldn’t find the back of the net once more, and had to survive some tense moments before securing the three points.

“I’m pleased with the win and all in all we played well,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “We created a lot of chances, but didn’t score and Bnei Yehuda wasn’t that far from equalizing.

Things aren’t going easy for us at the moment but that just means we need to work harder until they do.”

On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv goes for its third straight win when it visits Maccabi Netanya. Tel Aviv is coming off a 1-0 defeat to Slavia Prague in its Europa League group opener, and coach Jordi Cruyff is expecting a tough clash against a Netanya side that is unbeaten in its first three games after returning to the top flight.

“We have to make the switch from the Europa League and make sure that we are ready,” said Cruyff. “The league is our main objective and we have to be prepared for the match against Netanya.

They have a system that they use against every team and that’s something that we have to respect. They have an identity and it’s tough to play against them, but we will play our football and we will identify where our strengths are.”

Earlier Sunday, Maccabi Petah Tikva became the fifth different Premier League team to replace a coach this season, naming Sharon Mimer as its new head coach after Kubi Refua handed in his resignation.

Mimer was sacked by Beitar Jerusalem four days before the team opened its league campaign. Refua decided to quit after the side suffered its third consecutive loss on Saturday, falling 3-1 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.

Refua has been linked with Beitar, which is still looking to bolster its coaching staff and add an experienced figure alongside Gili Lavenda, who has guided the team since Mimer was fired.

Mimer was also wanted by Hapoel Ra’anana after it sacked Dudu Avraham on Sunday. Ra’anana, which picked up just a single point from its first four matches, losing 4-2 to Maccabi Haifa on Saturday, has yet to name a replacement for Avraham.
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