(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Two late goals gave Beitar Jerusalem a dramatic 2-0 win at Maccabi Haifa on Sunday night, propelling the team back up to third place in the Premier League standings.
After a goalless first half, Beitar barely threatened Haifa’s goal in the second half, but Dovev Gabay netted the opener in the 85th minute thanks to Liroy Zhairi’s sublime through ball before Omer Atzili clinched the three points in the 90th minute.
Beitar is just four points back of first place after registering its third straight victory and fifth in the past six matches. Jerusalem opened the season with a four-match winless streak during which some fans were calling for the resignation of coach Slobodan Drapic.
“We knew we wouldn’t reach many chances and that we would have to make the most of the ones we would,” said Drapic. “The guys showed a lot of character and sometimes that is enough. There is potential in this team but we are still not consistent enough.We need to play a lot better.”
Haifa remained in the relegation zone after dropping to its fifth defeat of the season. The Greens have won just two of 10 matches so far.
“This isn’t the first time that a match that could go either way didn’t go in our favor,” said coach Roni Levy. “It is disappointing that we are in this situation.”
On Monday, Hapoel Beersheba looks to return to first place with a victory over Hapoel Haifa at Turner Stadium.
Beersheba is targeting its fifth straight win and will move ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv on goal difference with another triumph. Beersheba hasn’t won five consecutive league games since 1996. Elyaniv Barda, who has scored six goals in the past four matches, will start up front yet again, with midfielders Anthony Nwakaeme and Maor Melikson also looking to continue their recent sensational form which has seen Beersheba score 13 goals over the past four games.
Coach Barak Bachar will have to manage without Maor Buzaglo once more, with the star midfielder to undergo a hernia operation which will see him miss around two months of action.