Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Dan Einbinder celebrates after scoring his team’s opener in last night’s 3-1 victory over Hapoel Ra’anana at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba kept the pressure on Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of their second showdown of the season next week, beating Hapoel Ra’anana 3-1 at Turner Stadium on Saturday night to return to the summit of the Premier League standings.
Maccabi can retake first place should it defeat Bnei Yehuda by at least two goals on Sunday. The two leading forces in Israeli soccer over the past five years entered the weekend tied on points and goal difference, with Maccabi sitting in first place, having the edge of scoring more goals than its rival.
The yellow-and-blue hosts next Sunday’s clash in Netanya, but will first want to take care of business against an in-form Bnei Yehuda.
Beersheba didn’t have it all its own way against Ra’anana, but snapped a rare two-game winless streak at Turner thanks to second-half goals by Tomas Pekhart and Maor Melikson.
Beersheba is still unbeaten in league action at Turner since entering the stadium in the 2015/16 campaign, a record streak of 44 matches. It could only manage draws against Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Haifa in its previous two home contests, and was held to a tie at halftime by Ra’anana after Karam Arshid (44) canceled out Dan Einbinder’s 23rd-minute opener for the hosts. Beersheba wouldn’t be denied though, with Pekhart (59) and a Melikson penalty (86) securing the points.
Hanan Maman made his debut for Beersheba after completing a move from Hapoel Haifa last week.
“We did our job against a team that came in with some good momentum,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “We have eight days to recover and prepare for Maccabi Tel Aviv. We know what we need to do and what we need to improve on.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv has won six straight league games, but is coming off a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Maccabi Haifa in the State Cup round-of-16. Bnei Yehuda has been one of this season’s pleasant surprises, losing just one of its past eight contests to climb up to fifth place in the table.
Maccabi coach Jordi Cruyff told the club’s official website. Hapoel Haifa snapped a three-game winless streak to remain within five points of the summit on Saturday, beating rock-bottom Hapoel Acre 1-0 on the road. Idan Golan scored the only goal of the match in the 82nd minute.
Maccabi Haifa couldn’t build on its impressive cup victory, drawing 1-1 with Maccabi Petah Tikva in Dutch coach Fred Rutten’s debut for the Greens. Lidor Cohen gave Petah Tikva the lead (36), with Nikita Rukavytsya equalizing for the hosts four minutes later.
Haifa is just five points above the relegation zone after Ashdod SC claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory at Hapoel Ashkelon.
Gadi Kinde netted a 90th-minute winner, with Yitzhak Asefa (25) leveling the score for Ashdod after Branislav Jovanovic (17) had given Ashkelon the lead.
Ashkelon ended the match with 10 men following Avi Malka’s sending off in the 87th minute.
Ashdod remains in the relegation zone, but moved tied on 16 points with Ashkelon, which has a superior goal difference.
Elsewhere Sunday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Kiryat Shmona.
Beitar Jerusalem looks to move back within one point of summit when it visits Maccabi Netanya on Monday.
Veteran midfielder Yossi Benayoun officially left Beitar on Saturday after a fall-out with club owner Eli Tabib resulted in his benching over recent months