Maccabi Haifa striker Eliran Atar frustrated Hapoel Beersheba’s Maharan Radi and Ben Biton .
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
The official opening of the new Turner Stadium in Beersheba was missing only one thing.
A sell-out crowd of 16,000 fans filled the new stadium, creating a sensational atmosphere. An early sending off and a near-brawl, as well as plenty of scoring opportunities, were also part of Monday’s contest between Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Haifa.
However, the celebratory occasion lacked an all-important goal, with Beersheba and Haifa ultimately ending their showdown in a 0-0 draw.
Haifa lost Taleb Tawatha to a red card in the second minute, but Beersheba couldn’t convert its one-man advantage to a goal and had to settle for a point.
Haifa was happy with the draw after playing almost the entire match with 10 men, but it remains in last place in the standings, having yet to score a goal this season.
The first match at Turner got off to a fiery start. Less than two minutes from the first whistle, Tawatha elbowed Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo and was shown a straight red card by referee Eitan Shmuelevitch.
Tawatha pleaded his innocence, claiming he didn’t deliberately strike Buzaglo and it took more than three minutes for the match to resume after a brawl between both sets of players was only just averted.
Beersheba struggled to make it one-man advantage count, reaching just one good chance in the first half. Maor Melikson’s rocket from the edge of the area smacked against the crossbar and there was still nothing to separate the teams at the break.
After a frustrating first half, Beersheba hit the ground running following the interval and its fans had their heads in their hands two minutes into the second half after their team somehow failed to score.
Maharan Radi’s first attempt was parried by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, with the Serbian denying Shlomi Arbeitman from close range moments later before San Menahem cleared Arbeitman’s subsequent attempt.
Haifa was more than happy to settle for a single point, but it had a great chance to take all three in the 67th minute, with Ofir Kriaf fluffing his shot from five meters out with only ‘keeper Dudu Goresh to beat.
Beersheba continued to press in search of a winner, but it found opportunities hard to come by and had to settle for a point.
In other soccer news, the Israel Football Association announced on Monday that Maccabi Tel Aviv defender Tal Ben-Haim will face disciplinary action for lashing out at Hapoel Ra’anana players based on TV footage.
Referee Erez Papir and his assistants missed the incident in which Ben-Haim kicked Ra’anana’s Snir Shuker while the two were on the ground during the 57th minute of Ra’anana’s shock 2-1 win at Bloomfield Stadium.
Ben-Haim will face the disciplinary court on Thursday in what will be just the second time that the IFA has charged a player based on TV replays.
In December 2011, then Ashdod SC defender Paty Yeye was handed a suspended three match ban after being caught on camera spitting at Maccabi Haifa striker Vladimir Dvalishvili, an incident which escaped the referee and his assistant.
Maccabi Netanya, which is still without a win this season, received further bad news on Monday, losing a fourth player to an anterior cruciate ligament injury this season.
After Eran Levy, Diya Saba and Israel Zaguri were all ruled out for at least six months with the serious injury, the latter just this past Saturday, Amer Msaroh joined the unfortunate list on Monday, suffering the injury in a friendly match in Hadera.