Hapoel Beersheba’s 40-year wait for a Premier League championship could finally come to an end on Saturday night after it extended its lead at the top of the standings to five points on Monday, beating Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 at Turner Stadium while Maccabi Tel Aviv could only manage a 1-1 draw against Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.
Beersheba visits Maccabi Haifa at Haifa Stadium on Saturday and can clinch the league title with a win regardless of the yellow- and-blue’s result at Beitar Jerusalem.
Beersheba needs just two points from its final two games, against Haifa and at home versus Bnei Sakhnin, to secure the championship even should Maccabi beat both Beitar and Maccabi Haifa.
Beersheba had to wait 77 minutes for the breakthrough on Monday.
Captain Elyaniv Barda came off the bench to break the deadlock before Ovidiu Hoban secured the victory with a stunning strike from the edge of the box six minutes later.
Tel Aviv had taken the lead against Ra’anana through Nosa Igiebor in the 59th minute, with Beersheba still being held by Beitar at that stage. However, instead of cutting the gap to a single point, Maccabi ended the night five points back of the summit, with Barak Badash equalizing four minutes later for Ra’anana before Barda and Hoben gave Beersheba its victory.
Beersheba struggled to create scoring opportunities against Beitar despite dominating the possession. Youngster Stav Shushan started in Jerusalem’s goal in the absence of the suspended Boris Kleyman, but he was rarely tested and stood up to the challenge when he was.