Hapoel Beersheba striker Elyaniv Barda (center) couldn’t find the back of the net in last night’s 1-1 draw against Maccabi Haifa at Turner Stadium.Hapoel Beersheba striker Elyaniv Barda (center) couldn’t find the back of the net in last night’s 1-1 draw against Maccabi Haifa at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Ben Sahar’s 84th-minute penalty saved Hapoel Beersheba from its first Premier League defeat at Turner Stadium on Saturday night, but the 1-1 draw against Maccabi Haifa saw the leader drop two more precious points in the title race.
Sahar’s equalizer, which canceled out Eliran Atar’s opener five minutes earlier, extended Beersheba’s lead over Maccabi Tel Aviv to two points. However, the yellow-and-blue can move into first place on Monday with a win over Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.
“The race is still wide open,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar, with his team also drawing against Bnei Sakhnin, Hapoel Ra’anana and Maccabi Tel Aviv at Turner over recent weeks. “We dropped precious points and we know that. We will need to fix that starting from next week.
“We still have six more matches to play and we have no choice but to win them,” he added. “We need to win all our matches until the end of the season.
Even if Maccabi wins and climbs up to first there will be six more matches to play and we still need to meet at Bloomfield so the race is wide open.”
Bnei Sakhnin moved into pole position in the battle for fourth place on Saturday, beating Hapoel Ra’anana 3-2.
Georginho (37, 70) and Shlomi Azulay (57) gave the visitors a three-goal lead before Evans Kangwa (73) and Dejan Radonjic (93) limited the damage for Ra’anana.
Meanwhile, only three points separate four teams in the battle against relegation after Hapoel Haifa beat Hapoel Acre 3-2 and Hapoel Kfar Saba lost 1-0 to Bnei Yehuda earlier Saturday.
Dolev Haziza’s 90th-minute winner effectively secured Bnei Yehuda another season in the top flight and seriously complicated Kfar Saba’s situation. Kfar Saba remained stranded in 12th place on 30 points, just one point and one position in front of the relegation zone and Hapoel Haifa, which snapped a 10 match winless streak in Acre. Maharan Lala (26, 66) and Maxim Plakuschenko (71) scored for Haifa, with Lanry Kahinda (81, 88) finding the back of the net for Acre, which is in 10th place, but only three points above Haifa with four matches to play.
“We are still alive and really needed this win,” said Haifa coach Eli Cohen.
“We are still in the relegation zone, but of course I believe we can survive. I hope that we can build on this win.”
The fourth team in the mix is Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which is two points above the danger zone, but will be hoping to make the most of the fact that Maccabi Petah Tikva has essentially guaranteed its Premier League status when the two meet on Sunday.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv can take a significant step towards securing its survival when it visits the already-relegated Maccabi Netanya. Tel Aviv beat Acre 1-0 last week to combine two straight wins for just the second time this season, the first since last September, and another victory on Sunday will move it seven points clear of the relegation zone.