Hapoel Beersheba extends gap at the top

Reigning champion thrashes Ashkelon while Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Petah Tikva can only manage goalless deadlock.

November 7, 2016 00:53
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba striker Ben Sahar (left) celebrates with teammate Maor Buzaglo after scoring his se

Hapoel Beersheba striker Ben Sahar (left) celebrates with teammate Maor Buzaglo after scoring his second goal in last night’s 5-1 win at Hapoel Ashkelon.. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Hapoel Beersheba strengthened its hold on first place in the Premier League standings on Sunday night, thrashing Hapoel Ashkelon 5-1 for its fifth straight win, while Maccabi Petah Tikva and Maccabi Tel Aviv drew 0-0.

Beersheba moved four points clear of Petah Tikva and five ahead of Maccabi thanks to another comprehensive victory, improving its combined goal difference over its current winning streak to 17-1.

Ben Sahar (19, 40), Michael Ohana (62, 71) and Mohammad Ghadir (86) found the back of the net for Beersheba, with Lassina Dao (54) scoring for rock-bottom Ashkelon, which is winless in its past eight matches, conceding five goals in each of its last two games.

“There is no such thing as an easy game,” insisted Beersheba coach Barak Bachar.

“Our attitude is what decides the outcome of the match. We have been through a tough week and I’m happy we got this win comfortably.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv failed to find the back of the net for a third straight league match, but it did at least snap its losing streak after falling 2-0 to both Maccabi Haifa and Beersheba in its previous two games.

Tel Aviv created numerous chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net once more, with the yellow-and-blue’s Europa League match against AZ Alkmaar last Thursday also ending in a goalless deadlock.

“Today it was obvious we weren’t sharp enough,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze.

“We had heavy legs from the start. We were tired and it was difficult to play. Petah Tikva is a good team and they fought until the final minute but freshness was the main point today.”

Petah Tikva coach Kobi Refua was pleased with the point.

“We entered this match with the goal of closing it down,” admitted Refua. “After we lost 5-0 to Beersheba we knew we had to be more careful this time.”

Beersheba wasn’t at its sharpest to start the game, but it scored with its first real chance. Maor Buzaglo was pulled down in the box and Sahar slotted in the penalty, twice, with referee Eitan Shmuelevitch ordering him to retake the spot kick after John Ogu entered the box too early.

The visitors doubled their advantage five minutes before the break, with Buzaglo’s free kick hitting the post and Sahar reaching the rebound first.

Dao handed Ashkelon a lifeline in the 54th minute, with Beersheba conceding its first league goal since September 19, snapping a run of four consecutive clean sheets.

The goal gave the hosts confidence they could also score a second and equalize, but it took just eight minutes for Beersheba to reestablish a two-goal cushion. Ohana, who was called up to the Israel national team for the first time in his career earlier Sunday, celebrated with a goal, heading past Dele Aiyenugba.

Ohana scored his second goal in the 71st minute and Mohammad Ghadir netted his first goal of the season four minutes from time to improve Beersheba’s goal difference.

On Monday, Hapoel Kfar Saba hosts Bnei Sakhnin.

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