Beersheba maintains advantage over Mac TA

Southerners back alone in 1st place by 3 points • Bnei Yehuda blanks Ra’anana in relegation battle.

March 19, 2017 23:20
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Ovidiu Hoban (right) celebrates with teammates Anthony Nwakaeme (9) and

Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Ovidiu Hoban (right) celebrates with teammates Anthony Nwakaeme (9) and John Ogu after netting the opener in last night’s 4-0 win over Maccabi Haifa at Turner Stadium.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hapoel Beersheba improved its almost flawless record at Turner Stadium on Sunday night, beating Maccabi Haifa 4-0 to reestablish a three-point lead over Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of their upcoming showdown.

Beersheba hosts Maccabi in two weeks following the international break, with Israel facing Spain in 2018 World Cup qualification on Friday.

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Maccabi has won seven straight matches, but Beersheba owns an almost perfect record at home this season, registering a 13th win from 14 games at Turner on Sunday. Beersheba still hasn’t lost a league match at Turner since the stadium opened at the start of 2015/16, a run of 31 games which includes 25 wins and six draws.

There was never any doubt Beersheba would remain unbeaten at home on Sunday, taking the lead thanks to Ovidiu Hoban’s (41) stunning strike before securing the three points through Michael Ohana’s (54) superb effort. Ben Sahar’s (86) penalty and Maharan Radi’s stoppage-time goal completed the rout, giving Beersheba four goals in a match for the first time since December.

After sneaking into the championship playoffs, Haifa was brought back down to earth in painful fashion with its heaviest defeat of the season. Nevertheless, Haifa remained in sixth place, three points behind Beitar Jerusalem in fourth, which could be good enough to qualify for the Europa League at the end of the season.

Beersheba dominated from the start, but it was Haifa which registered the first dangerous chance of the match. Uruguayan Gary Kagelmacher’s shot in the 14th minute beat goalkeeper Guy Haimov, but was denied by the upright.

After only entering the starting lineup following Elyaniv Barda’s injury in the warmup, Sahar could have been the hero for Beersheba, but he couldn’t connect from close range in the 19th minute and failed to find the back of the net with only ’keeper Omri Glazer to beat nine minutes later.

Hoban ensured the hosts led at the break nevertheless, with Glazer having no chance against his bullet from 20 meters out.

Beersheba hit the ground running at the start of the second half and deservedly doubled its advantage after nine minutes.

The hosts cut through Haifa’s defense with a move down the left flank and Ohana’s accurate effort effectively secured the three points.

Haifa never came close to mounting a comeback, losing its focus after San Menahem suffered a head injury, requiring several minutes of treatment before regaining consciousness and being carted off the pitch to an ambulance which took him to hospital.

Sahar’s penalty and Radi’s goal further improved Beersheba’s goal difference, which could also end proving to be decisive at the end of the season.

Earlier Sunday, Bnei Yehuda reestablished a seven-point cushion on the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory at Hapoel Ra’anana. Wins for Hapoel Ashkelon and Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday put Bnei Yehuda under pressure, but a brace by Lithuanian Nerijus Valskis (63, 69) moved the Tel Aviv club up to ninth place, above Ra’anana on goal difference.

Hapoel Kfar Saba visits Ashdod SC on Monday, with goal difference the only thing keeping the former out of the relegation zone.

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