Hapoel Beersheba forward Anthony Nawkaeme (right) battles for the ball with Hapoel Haifa defender Gabriel Tamas during last night’s 1-1 draw at Turner Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba moved back to the summit of the Premier League standings on Sunday night, but it dropped two more points at Turner Stadium after being held to a 1-1 draw by third-place Hapoel Haifa.
Eden Ben-Basat’s goal after just eight seconds, the second fastest goal in Premier League history, gave Haifa a shock lead at Turner. But Beersheba extended its uneaten home run since moving into Turner at the start of the 2015/16 campaign to 43 matches thanks to Ben Sahar’s equalizer in the 49th minute.
Both teams had their chances to claim all three points, but the back-and-forth encounter would end in a stalemate that keeps the top four tightly bunched together.
Beersheba, which had won five home games in a row before last week’s 0-0 draw with Bnei Yehuda, improved to 38 points, one ahead of Beitar Jerusalem and two in front of Hapoel Haifa. Maccabi Tel Aviv can move tied with Beersheba with a victory at Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
Beersheba captain Elyaniv Barda served as an assistant coach for the first time on Sunday, with the club announcing earlier in the day that he has joined the coaching staff but is still not ending his playing career. The 36-year-old hasn’t played since mid-November after requiring treatment with a defibrillator when he collapsed during a training session, being hit in the chest by a ball during a scrimmage.
“It is no secret that I always want to help and contribute from my abilities and knowledge,” said Barda. “At the moment, until I take more tests, I can’t do that on the pitch, so I will do it from the bench and in training.”
Earlier Sunday, Hapoel Ra’anana moved four points clear of the relegation zone, winning 1-0 at Hapoel Ashkelon to draw level on 16 points with Yuval Naim’s team. Mohamed Aly Camara scored the only goal of the match in the fifth minute, with the improving Ra’anana losing only once in its past five games.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is looking to build on the momentum it has sustained over the past month, winning six straight matches over all competitions starting with the 1-0 triumph over Hapoel Beersheba in the Toto Cup final on December 14.
“It’s a game of adrenaline, a game of history and present and future,” said Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff, who insisted his team shouldn’t be regarded as the favorite against Maccabi Haifa. “And for us it is three points that we need to have. These kinds of games are decided on the day of the game and there are no real favorites.”
Haifa finally returned to winning ways last week, beating Ra’anana 3-0 to snap a three-match losing streak and register its first league victory since the start of November.
Haifa will be guided once more by assistant coach Rob Maas, with technical director Mo Allach still searching for a full-time replacement for Guy Luzon, who was sacked over a month ago.
“I like Allach and how he works,” said Cruyff. “There is always thought behind his decisions and I believe that Maccabi Haifa is in good hands.”