Hapoel Beersheba’s Eliyaniv Barda.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Hapoel Beersheba returned to the summit of the Premier League standings with its fourth straight victory on Sunday, claiming a comfortable 2-0 win at Maccabi Netanya.
Beersheba saw three-time defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv leapfrog into first place with Saturday’s 1-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby, but responded in a fashion expected by a title challenger, coasting to the three points on Sunday to move back into first place on goal difference.
After winning just two of its first five matches of the campaign, injuries have strangely enough helped Beersheba find its way. New coach Barak Bachar struggled with the embarrassment of riches in the squad, and it wasn’t until Maor Buzaglo and Ben Sahar were both sidelined with injuries that he discovered the lineup that has since won four consecutive matches.
Elyaniv Barda and Anthony Nwakaeme took their place and have been unstoppable in an offense orchestrated by a rejuvenated Maor Melikson, with Barda scoring twice on Sunday for his fifth and sixth goals in the past four matches.
Melikson set up Barda’s opener in the 13th minute, with the veteran striker doubling the advantage 11 minutes later.
“Every player has something to prove and I’m happy that I have proven myself while the team is succeeding,” said Barda, who didn’t want to talk about his team’s battle with Maccabi Tel Aviv. “I prefer to focus on Hapoel Beersheba. We will do our best and see where that leads us.”
Netanya remained in last place and is still stuck on a single win this season. The fans called for the head of coach Shlomi Dora on Sunday, but he said he has no intention of resigning.
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“This is the life of a soccer coach,” said Dora. “We need to all believe that we have a good team here.”
Also Sunday, Bnei Yehuda moved up to sixth place with a 2-1 win over Hapoel Kfar Saba. Jude Nworuh made the most of goalkeeper Ohad Cohen’s mistake to give Bnei Yehuda the lead after six minutes and the stopper’s own goal made it 2-0 six minutes later. The hosts lost ‘keeper Dele Aiyenugba to a red card in the 34th minute, but Hugo Lopez’s subsequent penalty was all Kfar Saba could muster.
Beitar Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Ra’anana on Monday.
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