Maccabi Haifa striker Glynor Plet (left) celebrates with teammate Nikita Rukavytsya after scoring the winner in last night’s 2-1 victory over Hapoel Beersheba at Haifa Stadium..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Hapoel Beersheba was brought back down to earth by Maccabi Haifa on Monday night, suffering its first Premier League defeat of the season four days after defeating Inter Milan at San Siro.
Haifa came back from a goal down to claim a 2-1 win, with substitute Glynor Plet scoring the winner in the 80th minute. Maor Buzaglo had given Beersheba the lead in the 14th minute, but Haifa equalized from the penalty spot only eight minutes later courtesy of Nikita Rukavytsya.
Plet scored the decisive goal 10 minutes from time following a Beersheba defensive mistake, extending Haifa’s run of success against Beersheba.
Beersheba has lost just twice in its past 35 league matches stretching back to September of last year, with both defeats coming at Haifa by a 2-1 score-line.
“At the end of the day it is still another game and only three points and that is important,” said Haifa coach Rene Meulensteen, whose team moved tied with Beersheba on seven points from four matches. “The performacne and work rate were great. I wanted to bring more pace in the front with my substitutions and they kept the ball well and we wanted to maintain quality and spring and obviously one of the substitutions got us the goal. I think we proved today we are improving. It will take time but these small steps are very important as they give us confidence.”
Beersheba coach Barak Bachar wasn’t too upset with the defeat.
“We started the second half well,” he said. “We controlled the game, but it was a tight match and it is a shame we conceded that goal.
Losing is part of the game and we need to accept defeats. This is a shame but we will already look forward to our next match.”
Maccabi Haifa was the only team Beersheba didn’t manage to beat last season. Three of their four meetings in the league ended in draws, with the fourth being won by the Greens. Haifa also beat Beersheba 3-1 in the State Cup semifinals.
Haifa got off to a good start on Monday, but it was the visitors who netted the opener.
Ovidiu Hoban’s long ball caught the Haifa defense napping and Buzaglo collected the ball, chipped goalkeeper Ohad Levita and headed the ball into the empty net.
Haifa leveled the score eight minutes later.
Ben Turgeman shoved Gary Kagelmacher in the box and Rukavytsya made no mistake from the penalty spot.
The equalizer sprung Beersheba back into life, with Anthony Nwakaeme registering two dangerous shots within a minute.
Both teams had their chances in the second half before Plet fired Haifa into the lead. Nwakaeme had to just leave the ball and allow it to go out for a goal kick, but instead he headed it straight at Plet, who made the most of the opportunity.
Beersheba couldn’t find an equalizer and Haifa held on for a win which could finally kick-start its campaign and give it real credibility as a title challenger.