Beersheba on cloud nine; Mac TA searching for explanations

Beersheba was playing its first-ever group stage match in European competition, but it fully deserved its victory against the three-time European champion, which won its last title just 6 years ago.

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September 18, 2016 04:48
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo was one of the team’s better players in the 2-0 win over In

Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo was one of the team’s better players in the 2-0 win over Inter Milan in San Siro, scoring the second goal with a sensational free kick.. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Hapoel Beersheba returned to training over the weekend ahead of Monday’s Premier League showdown against Maccabi Haifa still under the influence of the euphoria from the stunning Europa League win over Inter Milan in San Siro.

The remarkable rise of Beersheba, which three years ago only avoided relegation from the Premier League in the final weekend of the season, continued on Thursday night with a 2-0 upset in one of the continent’s biggest and most famous stadiums.

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Beersheba was playing its first-ever group stage match in European competition, but it fully deserved its victory against the three-time European champion, which won its last title just six years ago.

After a goalless first half, Miguel Vitor scored the opener for Beersheba following a well-worked free-kick move in the 54th minute. Maor Buzaglo doubled the advantage with a sensational set-piece from 20 meters out 15 minutes later and Beersheba, which claimed its first local championship in 40 years last season, comfortably held on for one of the greatest wins by an Israeli club in European competition.

Coach Barak Bachar’s team hosts Southampton of the English Premier League in its next Europa match on September 29, with the top two teams in Group K, which also includes Sparta Prague, to advance to the knockout rounds.

“We really believed we could win this match,” said coach Bachar. “We achieved something amazing. Our tactical play was almost perfect. We made Inter look bad. This win will give us a lot of confidence going forward and we are already focusing on the match against Maccabi Haifa and our upcoming games in the league. We face Southampton in a couple of weeks and we want to win that match as well.”

While Beersheba is on cloud nine, Maccabi Tel Aviv is still licking its wounds from Thursday’s meltdown against Zenit Saint Petersburg. Maccabi opened a 3-0 lead in the 70th minute in Netanya, only to lose 4-3, with Zenit scoring its goals between the 77th and 91st minutes.

Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze, whose team visits Hapoel Ra’anana in league action on Sunday, believed the turning point in the match arrived when defender Eli Dasa was sent off with a second yellow card and incurred an indirect free kick from five meters out which resulted in Zenit’s second goal and complete panic by the hosts. According to a change in the laws of the game from earlier this year, if the referee plays advantage for a red card offence, which Ivan Kruzliak of Slovakia did when Dasa committed a reckless foul in the center of the field, and the offending player then gets involved in play, the other team is awarded an indirect free kick.

Maccabi midfielder Yossi Benayoun admitted the players were not all aware of this change in the laws. The local referee association claimed on Friday that it briefed every squad in the league on the new laws apart from Maccabi’s as the yellowand- blue said it was too busy.

“It was a shock for the team to lose both a player and for them to cut the lead to 3-2,” explained Benayoun. “This is a hard loss to digest. When you make a mistake at these levels and let your opponent get back into the game it becomes very difficult to stop the snowball effect.”


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