Hapoel Beersheba striker Ben Sahar celebrates after netting his second goal during last night’s 3-1 win over Hapoel Acre in Premier League action at Turner Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
Hapoel Beersheba made it five straight Premier League wins on Saturday night to move tied on points with Hapoel Haifa in first place in the standings, beating Hapoel Acre 3-1 at Turner Stadium.
Despite gifting Acre an equalizer, Beersheba never seemed to be in danger of dropping points, restoring its lead in first half stoppage time and cruising in the second half after doubling its advantage two minutes after the break.
After an erratic start to the season during which it won only two of its first five matches, Beersheba improved to 23 points, its second-best record through 10 games. The two-time reigning champion set a club record with 25 points from its first 10 games last season.
“We have a decent record after 10 matches, but the important thing is that we have started to play well,” said Bachar, whose team visits Lugano in Switzerland in a crucial Europa League encounter on Thursday. “We didn’t play with energy at the start of the season, but that has changed and we need to continue this way.”
The rest of the Premier League won’t be back in action until next weekend, with the international break being extended by another week in Israel to allow clubs to resurface their pitches.
The match between Acre and Beersheba was postponed from September due to the reigning champion’s participation in the Europa League.
Beersheba had to wait until the 28th minute to take the lead on Saturday, with Ben Sahar supplying the clinical finish in front of goal. Acre, which remains just one point above the relegation zone, leveled the score just five minutes later. Ben Azubel coolly chipped goalkeeper Dudu Goresh after stealing the ball from a complacent Matan Ohayon.
Beersheba moved back into the lead on the brink of halftime, with Isaac Cuenca scoring from the rebound of a Sahar shot. Cuenca celebrated by running to the stands to embrace team captain Elyaniv Barda, who was released from hospital earlier in the week. Barda required treatment with a defibrillator after collapsing during a training session the previous week.
The 35-year-old striker was hit in the chest by a ball during a scrimmage and after it initially seemed he had shaken it off, he suddenly dropped to the ground and began to convulse. The team’s medical staff immediately initiated CPR and an ambulance was summoned.
The ambulance staff treated Barda with a defibrillator before taking him to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. It is still unknown if, and when, Barda will be able to return to action.
Beersheba managed just fine without him on Saturday, with Sahar effectively clinching the three points in the 48th minute with an easy finish.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will also be in action in the Europa League on Thursday, but unlike Beershea, it has already turned its entire focus to local league play. Maccabi hosts Slavia Prague, but has already lost any chance of progressing to the next round with two matches to play in the group stage.
Maccabi, which visits leader Hapoel Haifa in its next league game next Sunday, lost 4-1 to Maccabi Netanya in a friendly match last Thursday.
“The decision to arrange this match was to give minutes to players returning from injury and players who haven’t played a lot in recent matches,” said Tel Aviv coach Jordi Cruyff. “Netanya played well and punished us for our mistakes.”