Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maharan Radi celebrates after scoring the opener in last night’s 2-0 win over Beitar Jerusalem at Turner Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
A clinical second-half display saw Hapoel Beersheba reestablish a sixpoint gap at the top of the Premier League standings on Monday night, beating Beitar Jerusalem 2-0 to improve its almost perfect home record at Turner Stadium.
Maccabi Tel Aviv closed within three points of first place with a 2-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday, but Beersheba made sure it doubled the gap with a 15th win from 16 home games this season.
Beitar had the better chances in the first 45 minutes, but the opening half ended in a goalless deadlock and Beersheba moved up a gear in the final 30 minutes. Maharan Radi netted the opener with Beersheba’s first shot on target in the 67th minute and substitute Elyaniv Barda clinched the victory nine minutes later, securing Beersheba’s seventh straight league win.
Five of those wins came at Turner, with Beersheba’s overall unbeaten streak at the stadium since its opening at the start of last season up to 33 league games (27 wins and six draws).
Beersheba will need to extend its winning form on the road to maintain its cushion over Maccabi, with the defending champion facing a run of three straight games away from Turner, visiting Bnei Sakhnin, Maccabi Haifa and then Maccabi Tel Aviv in what will be their final meeting of the season.
The loss leaves Beitar two points back of Maccabi Petah Tikva in the battle for third place and automatic qualification for the Europa League. Bnei Sakhnin is one point back of Beitar, with Maccabi Haifa four points further behind.
The team to finish in third place is guaranteed a place in the Europa League qualifiers next season, while fourth position will also be good enough for continental qualification should Maccabi Tel Aviv defeat Bnei Yehuda in the State Cup final next month and finish in the top three as expected.
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Both Beersheba and Beitar lacked sharpness at the start of the game, with the first real chance not arriving until the 16th minute when Beitar’s Itay Shechter fired straight at goalkeeper Guy Haimov.
Beersheba reached its first scoring opportunity three minutes later and the game would have been very different had Ben Sahar not missed his header in front of an empty net.
Anthony Nwakaeme’s cross got the better of ‘keeper Boris Kleyman, but Sahar couldn’t find the target from five meters out.
Sahar’s miss was especially significant as Beersheba struggled to break down Beitar’s formation, with the visitors reaching the better chances for much of the night. German defender Marcel Heister should have given Jerusalem the lead on the brink of halftime, but his close-range effort flew wide of the upright.
Shechter squandered another golden opportunity six minutes into the second half and Beitar was outraged two minutes later when referee Erez Papir failed to spot Mihaly Korhut tripping Hen Ezra in the box.
Beersheba made the most of the reprieve, increasing the pressure on Beitar in the subsequent minutes before being rewarded with the opener.
After another miss by Sahar, patient build up by Beersheba ended with a Nwakaeme pass to Radi, who scored from the edge of the box.
The hosts didn’t let up after breaking the deadlock and clinched the three points through Barda in the 76th minute.
Substitute Maor Buzaglo threaded the ball through to the veteran striker who made no mistake in front of goal, sparking what have become characteristic celebrations at Turner.
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