Hapoel Beersheba’s Michael Ohana (left).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba returned to the summit of the Premier League standings with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa on Monday night, as Maor Buzaglo’s return to Turner Stadium ended in tears after he re-injured his right knee.
Haifa defender Allyson scored the opener, turning the ball into his own team’s net in the 10th minute after Michael Ohana’s shot hit his foot.
Anthony Nawkaeme secured the three points in the 89th minute, scoring in his return to the lineup.
Nawkaeme missed last week’s loss to Maccabi Netanya in league action, as well as the defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Toto Cup final, but ensured Beersheba rebounded to reestablish a one-point gap over Hapoel Haifa.
Beitar Jerusalem is two points further back, with Maccabi Tel Aviv four points off the top.
The main story-line entering the match was the return of Maor Buzaglo to Turner. The 29-year-old midfielder was facing his former team for the first time since leaving the club during the summer. He was an integral part of Beersheba’s success over the past four years, but suffered a serious knee injury in April and joined Haifa on a free transfer during the summer.
Buzaglo was hoping for a dream return, but instead he experienced a complete nightmare, limping off the pitch in tears in the 33rd minute after re-injuring his right knee. He will undergo an MRI to reveal the extent of the injury, with the player telling those around him during the halftime break that he is concerned he has torn ligaments yet again.
Haifa was already behind by then, with Beersheba’s early pressure paying off after 10 minutes.
The hosts had Haifa defender Allyson to thank for its opener, with Ohana’s attempted shot heading wide before hitting the Brazilian’s foot and rolling into the back of the net.
Despite being a goal down and losing Buzaglo, Haifa was the better team in the final third of the first half. But its lack of cutting edge in the final third on the pitch meant it struggled to threaten Beersheba goalkeeper Guy Haimov.
Haimov was forced into an excellent save six minutes into the second half, with Mohammed Awaed’s powerful shot making its way into the top left corner before the ’keeper intervened.
Beersheba hardly impressed, but it maintained a clean sheet and Nawkaeme wrapped up the three points with a late goal.
Haifa remained in ninth place with 16 points, which is not only less than half of Beersheba’s total, but also already leaves the Greens 10 points behind the top six that will qualify for the championship playoffs after two rounds of action.
Haifa, which has won only one of its past nine games, was guided once more by Dutchman Rob Maas, who only began working for the team as an assistant coach two weeks ago. Technical director Mo Allach, who has been at the club since last month, is still searching for a full-time replacement for Guy Luzon.
In other soccer news, one of the greatest goalkeepers in Israeli soccer history, Ya’akov Visoker, passed away on Monday. He was 87.
Visoker played for Hapoel Petah Tikva for 15 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s, winning six championships with the team, including five in a row between 1958/1959 and 1962/63, a record that still stands.
He made nine appearances for the Israel national team, mainly serving as a backup for the great Ya’akov Hodorov.