Hapoel Beersheba striker Ben Sahar (left) scored his team’s equalizer last night, but the reigning champion was held to a 1-1 draw by Hapoel Tel Aviv at Turner Stadium..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba’s charge towards a second straight Premier League championship hit another hurdle on Sunday night, with the reigning champion drawing 1-1 with Hapoel Tel Aviv at Turner Stadium.
After having its nine-match winning streak snapped with last week’s surprise 1-0 loss at Hapoel Ra’anana, Beersheba was determined to get back on track against a Tel Aviv side in danger of going into administration. However, Beersheba required a 78th-minute equalizer from substitute Ben Sahar to claim a single point after Omri Altman had given the visitors the lead in the 43rd minute.
Beersheba’s lead at the top is down to seven points after Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Ashdod SC on Saturday, while Hapoel Tel Aviv moved four points above the relegation zone.
“We need to salute these players,” said Tel Aviv coach Guy Luzon.
“They have received a third of their salaries over the past two months but they give their all in every training session and every match. I just pray that the club will have a new owner this week and that we will be able to continue together.”
Hapoel’s situation is vastly complicated by its dire state off the pitch. The club’s future remains shrouded in doubt, with its trustees trying to save the club from bankruptcy after the Tel Aviv District Court approved a request for a stay of legal proceedings due to debts estimated at over NIS 100 million.
The trustees need to present the court with a new potential owner to replace Amir Kabiri by Tuesday.
Hapoel could find itself in a far tougher situation on January 11 should judge Eitan Orenstein approve the nine-point deduction the club is set to be handed according to Israel Football Association regulations.
Beersheba looked to put the visitors under pressure from the start on Sunday and Mohammad Ghadir could have given the visitors the lead in the 12th minute, but he sent his shot straight at goalkeeper Ariel Harush.
The post denied Maor Buzaglo’s free kick in the 20th minute before Harush maintained the deadlock with saves from Maharan Radi and Michael Ohana.
Tel Aviv registered just one shot on target in the first half and it made it count.
Defender Loai Taha sent the ball straight into Altman’s path and the Tel Aviv midfielder was brought down in the box by Shir Tzedek. Altamn made no mistake with the spot kick in the 43rd minute, giving the visitors a surprise lead.
Harush came up with another superb save to deny Sahar’s header in the 77th minute, but just a minute later the ‘keeper would gift Beersheba the equalizer.
He sent his goal-kick straight at Sahar, who ran unchallenged into the box before beating Harush with a shot into the bottom left corner.
Beersheba pushed forward in search of a winner, but it wouldn’t beat Harush again and dropped two more points.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Petah Tikva snapped a six-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ra’anana to climb up to third place.
Petah Tikva only lost one of its previous six games, but five draws saw it lose important ground which it began making up on Sunday.
Ra’anana played with 10 men from the 31st minute following Rene Mihelic wild challenge on Dor Alo and goals from Guy Melamed (55) and Mihai Roman (72) gave Petah Tikva all three points.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Bnei Sakhnin.