Hapoel Beersheba striker Elyaniv Barda (left) celebrates with teammate Anthony Nwakaeme after scoring his team’s opener in a 2-0 win over Hapoel Ra’anana at Turner Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
A 90th-minute penalty by Maharan Radi gave Hapoel Beersheba a 3-2 win over Moldovan champion FC Sheriff Tiraspol at Turner Stadium on Tuesday night in a bizarre first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie which saw the hosts being awarded three penalty kicks.
After ending its 40-year wait for a Premier League championship, Beersheba is playing in the Champions League qualifiers for the first time in club history. It will quickly want to forget about Tuesday’s match despite registering a tight win over the underdog visitors. Had it not been for some strange decisions in its favor by Spanish referee Carlos Del Cerro, Beersheba may have found itself in a far tougher position ahead of next Tuesday’s second leg in Moldova.
Tiraspol took the lead in the 21st minute through Josip Ivancic, but the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Fidan Aliti was sent off for a foul he didn’t commit five minutes later. Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo missed the subsequent spot kick, but John Ogu ensured the score was level at the break with his equalizer in the 43rd minute.
Del Cerro awarded Beersheba another penalty in the 50th minute, which Elyaniv Barda duly converted, but even with a oneman and one-goal advantage, Beersheba managed to concede from Josip Brezovec in the 64th minute. Another penalty, however, spared Beersheba’s blushes, with Radi stepping up to secure the win.
Beersheba must overcome three rounds of qualifiers to reach the group stage, but first must get the better of Tiraspol to ensure its continental campaign doesn’t already end next week. Beersheba will be handed a berth in the Europa League playoffs even should it be knocked out in the Champions League third qualifying round.
Beersheba looked to dictate from the start and Buzaglo and Barda both squandered early good chances. Sheriff was not content on just defending and Turner Stadium was silenced in the 21st minute.
Zoran Kvrzic created space on the right flank and Ivancic headed in from close range.
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Beersheba looked stunned but received a helping hand from the referee five minutes later. Del Cerro decided Ogu had been pushed over in the box, and not only awarded the hosts a penalty but also handed a second yellow card and sent off Aliti while TV replays showed that even if Ogu had been fouled, it was Seidu Yahaya who committed the offense.
Beersheba failed to level the score though, with Buzaglo’s penalty being denied by goalkeeper Bozhidar Mitrev.
The Israeli champion did at least make the most of its one-man advantage and equalized before the break, with Ogu finding the back of the net after a clever team move from a corner kick.
Beersheba had Del Cerro to thank for its second goal as well, with the Spaniard determining that Barda was pulled down in the box by Amer Dupovac. Barda made no mistake with his spot kick.
Brezovec would equalize in the 64th minute when his powerful effort from 20 meters out was denied by the post, but found the back of the net after rebounding off Goresh’s back. But Beersheba would have the last laugh, although it will know a dramatic improvement is required ahead of next week.
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